HULL CITY’S Premier League ambitions have suffered a blow with confirmation that defender James Chester is out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.
The defender, who turned 25 yesterday, limped out of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Norwich City after just 15 minutes and scans have revealed a recurrence of a problem that kept him out earlier in the season.
Chester was sidelined for more than two months then and manager Steve Bruce anticipates the one-time Manchester United trainee will not be ready for first-team action until March.
The Hull chief said: “James has damaged the tendon again, the one that he damaged at the start of the season.
“It is not as bad as it was the first time he did it, but it is still a concern because it is the same tendon high up in his hamstring.
“He is going to be at least six weeks away, I would have thought. It is a shame because he was just finding his feet again after his last spell out, but that is football.”
Chester’s absence from the Tigers’ defence is likely to be keenly felt. Bruce’s preferred 3-5-2 formation has Chester as a key part of a back-line also featuring Alex Bruce and Curtis Davies.
Abdoulaye Faye, who would have played at Southend United tomorrow in the FA Cup regardless of injuries, provides an option, but his lack of pace could be exposed by some sides.
Paul McShane’s return from an ankle injury, therefore, cannot come soon enough and, on that point, Bruce has been given some welcome news.
He said: “Paul is back in full training and knocking on the door. It has been a stop-start season for him, unfortunately. He has been in and out of the team having picked up a couple of injuries.
“Let’s hope that he can stay injury-free from now until the end of the season because he can add something to us defensively.”
The £14m splurge on Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, both of whom are Cup-tied for tomorrow’s trip to Roots Hall, means the transfer kitty is almost bare.
One new arrival, though, was confirmed yesterday, with Halifax born right-back Elliot Kebbie – once a trainee at Leeds United – signing until the end of the season.
Released by Atletico Madrid, the teenager is unlikely to feature in the first team with his involvement instead being with Stephen Clemence’s development squad.
Clemence said: “Elliot initially came in to train with us to keep his fitness up and we ended up giving him a trial. He is an athletic player with speed and a player who is looking to improve.
“We will assess him over the next few months.”