HULL CITY have opened talks over a new contract with defender James Chester.
The 23-year-old, whose current deal runs until the summer of 2014, has had an outstanding first two years at the KC Stadium and is seen by manager Steve Bruce as a key part of the club’s future.
Discussions began yesterday between Bruce and Chester’s agent as Hull look to send out a statement of intent that their top players will not be prised away by rival clubs.
Bruce, meanwhile, continues to cast his eye over the loan market as the Tigers face up to being without both Matty Fryatt and Joe Dudgeon long term.
Fryatt, last season’s top scorer, is out with a ruptured Achilles, while Dudgeon is also unlikely to play again before 2013-14 following surgery on a long-standing knee problem.
The loss of Dudgeon, in particular, has been keenly felt with the wing-back system Bruce has favoured for much of this term having been ideally suited to the former Manchester United junior.
In the quest to bolster his squad, Bruce admits the midweek exit of United, Spurs and Liverpool from the Capital One Cup could open doors for the Tigers.
He said: “The injuries have left us a bit thin but I have always been one where, unless I can get someone to really improve us, then I am not just going to bring anyone in.
“That would be easy. But we have got one or two things in the fire that might come to fruition.
“For example, the big teams getting knocked out of the League Cup can open doors so we will scour and see what is available over the next couple of weeks.
“Every manager (whose team) went out on Wednesday will get a call from me. The big teams usually want their young players to go out and get experience so we will see.
“We want to try to mount a challenge if we can so it is not just young lads I’m looking for. I would like a sprinkle of everything.”
Asked if a signing was imminent, Bruce replied: “If I am honest, at the moment we are not really close to much. But if there is anyone out there who can improve us, then I will act.”
Meanwhile, a couple of Hull’s younger players have gone out on loan. Liam Cooper has joined Chesterfield while Jamie Devitt will spend the next month with Rotherham United.
Millers manager Steve Evans said: “Jamie has good experience for his age but desperately needs to be playing first-team football.”