Hull City boss Steve Bruce wants long term James Chester deal
STEVE Bruce intends to open contract talks with James Chester next month in a bid to tie the defender to Hull City long term.
Chester has established himself as one of the jewels in the Tigers' crown since arriving from Manchester United in January 2011, producing form that has seen him widely tipped for a future in the Premier League.
Although the 23-year-old's current deal is not due to expire until June 2014, the centre-half remains on the same terms as when first signed.
Bruce now wants to see his development rewarded with a new and improved deal, and the City boss will prioritise the matter when meeting with owner Assem Allam.
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"I have a meeting with the owners in the next week or so and the one thing we have to do is make sure we look after our good players and get them tied up," Bruce told the Mail.
"That's an area we can look to address before the next transfer window and Chezzy is certainly on top of that list.
"He's a wonderful young defender who can only get better, and I'd love him to be part of this club for the next few years.
"I think he enjoys being here because he's playing. There's no substitute for that when you're a young defender who's learning his trade. That experience of playing week-in and week-out is vital.
"He's turned himself into a real crowd favourite in his time here and rightly so because he's everything you want in a player."
While Bruce has not been afraid to ring the changes in a squad he inherited this summer, Chester has stood firm as a hugely influential figure in the City defence.
Under Nigel Pearson, Nick Barmby and Bruce, Chester has played in 72 of the Tigers' 74 Championship fixtures since signed for the bargain price of £300,000 to underline his status as one of the most highly-rated defenders outside the top flight.
The Mail understands Chester had been assured talks over a new deal would be staged before Barmby's dismissal in May, but Bruce will now look to fulfil the promise in the coming weeks.
He added: "I'd heard good things about Chezzy before I'd come here so it's not surprised me how well he's been performing.
"You look at how good the side's defensive record was last year and Chezzy was a big part of that.
"He's a very good player and can only get better.
"We'd love to make sure that's with us."
Although Chester's future will be a priority, Bruce has 12 first-team players with contracts due to expire at the end of this season.
Jay Simpson, Liam Rosenior, Seyi Olofinjana, Paul McShane, Paul McKenna and Andy Dawson are among the list, but Bruce may choose to be patient before entering into more talks.
The City boss continues to keep his options open in the emergency loan market, with a central midfielder the most likely of recruits.
Bruce had been interested in Sunderland midfielder David Meyler, but with that deal seemingly dead, he is monitoring the Premier League.