Chester out to make an impression after Old Trafford

Leaving behind a first love is never easy but James Chester believes his move to Hull City has come at just the right time.

The 21-year-old joined the Tigers from Manchester United a little over a week ago in a 300,000 deal that took Nigel Pearson's spending in the January transfer window close to the 3m mark.

Having joined the Red Devils' Academy at eight-years-old and supported the club all his life, Chester's decision to leave Old Trafford was, not surprisingly, a major one.

However, having made just one solitary appearance from the bench for United – albeit in a League Cup semi-final – Chester accepts that the time had come to cut all ties with the current Premier League leaders.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Manchester United and without them I would not be where I am today," admits the Warrington-born defender who spent the first half of this season on loan at League One Carlisle United.

"I have got nothing but good memories from my time there but the time had come when I had to leave United. I am 21 now and it was a case of getting out somewhere and making a career out of football. It wasn't an easy decision.

"I am a United fan and have been there since I was a young boy. But, sometimes, you have just got to face facts. To break through at Manchester United you have got to be exceptional.

"You have to realise you are not going to break through into the first team. and move somewhere else where you can."

Chester is in line to make his City debut today in the Yorkshire derby clash with Barnsley at the KC Stadium, the 21-year-old having been forced to sit out last week's FA Cup defeat to Wigan Athletic due to having already played in the competition this season with Carlisle.

While at Brunton Park, Chester made 24 appearances and scored four goals to become an integral part of Greg Abbott's side.

The Carlisle manager wanted to keep the defender until the end of the season only for Hull's transfer bid in the opening week of the window to put an end to those hopes.

Chester, who marked his last game for the Cumbrians by scoring in a 2-2 draw with Huddersfield Town, admits the speed of the deal took him by surprise.

He said: "It came around very quickly. I got a call from my agent a couple of weeks ago asking if I would fancy going to Hull. It was a 'yes' straight away from me and then my agent rang me a couple of days later to say they were going to put a bid in.

"From there, it was just a case of waiting to see if United would accept and, thankfully, they did.

"I must admit it is a bit of a strange feeling to have a price-tag on me for the first time.

"I am trying to take it as it comes and it is a fresh challenge but I feel comfortable that I can settle in."

Chester's move to the KC Stadium brought to an end any hopes of adding to his solitary appearance in the colours of the team he supported as a boy.

That came in the second leg of United's Carling Cup semi-final win over Derby County in January, 2009, when Sir Alex Ferguson's side triumphed on home soil to seal a comfortable 5-2 aggregate win.

Shortly after making his United bow, Chester then joined Peterborough United on loan and made five appearances for a team that were destined to win promotion from League One.

He then returned to Old Trafford, where he was named the club's reserve team player of the season for 2008-09.

A second loan move to Championship club Plymouth Argyle followed last term only for his stay in Devon to be curtailed by a knee injury after making just three appearances.

Long-time admirer Abbott then tempted the defender to make the temporary move to Carlisle last August and, after a shaky start that saw his slip lead to Huddersfield's winner in a Carling Cup tie at Brunton Park, he became a firm favourite in Cumbria.

Chester, who is 5ft 11in tall, said ahead of today's derby game: "My time at Carlisle was great because I wanted to get out and play regular first-team football.

"People were ringing up asking if I was big enough but Greg Abbott gave me that chance and I am very thankful that he did. It gave me an opportunity to play first-team football, where every point means something and you are playing against men week in, week out."

Today, Chester, who has signed a deal with the Tigers to keep him in the East Riding until 2014, is set to return to a level where he has played just three games.

The defender, who despite his height proved a major threat at set-pieces during his time at Carlisle, insists he is ready to handle the step-up.

Chester, who will turn 22 a week tomorrow, said: "Maybe if you had have asked me a couple of years ago, I am not sure I would have been ready for it.

"I played a couple of games there with Plymouth and it gave me a bit of an insight into the pace and physical nature of the league.

"But in the last couple of years I have filled out physically. In the past I have had a few elbows and things like that. That is normal for a young lad, it is part of the game and another learning curve.

"I am 5ft 11 but, hopefully, that won't matter. The experience I have had with Carlisle this season has helped me a huge amount and I feel confident that I can do well here."