JORDAN CHAPELL is relishing the opportunity to fight for a place at Chester having been rewarded by the club with a new one-year deal.
The 25-year-old attacker, who hails from Sheffield, was enjoying the best spell of his Blues’ career last season, making 27 appearances in league and cup prior to picking up a back injury in the 2-1 win at Braintree Town on January 7.
But that was the last Blues’ fans saw of Chapell as he fractured his cheekbone shortly after returning to full training in February, which required surgery and kept him out of action.
Chapell was a major loss to boss Jon McCarthy and his injury woes came at a time when the former Sheffield United trainee was producing some sparkling displays alongside James Alabi in a new role up front.
“I was having a good run of form, I scored against Eastleigh and was playing well,” Chapell said.
“We were in a great run of form, the lads were all buzzing. Kane (Richards) got sent off (away at Witton Albion) and the gaffer came up to me in training and asked if I fancied a go up top the following week.
“I’ve never played up front but I leapt at the chance, I’ve always fancied I could do a job up there and I wanted to take the chance and put in a good performance for the manager.
“I really enjoyed it and managed to get a goal against Aldershot and I felt I did well at Solihull (3-2 defeat) but then the injuries began.
“I had the two injuries, the back problem cleared up but then I broke my cheekbone and that was it for the season, doctors orders and you’ve got to listen to them.
“The main thing now is getting back on the pitch again, winning back my place in the team. But if the chance comes to play in attack again then I’d like the opportunity.
“The gaffer seems to be signing some good strikers and I imagine there’s more attackers coming in.”
Chapell admits he was ‘worried’ his injury setbacks may count against him when McCarthy came to assessing his squad at the end of last season, so it came as a relief when he was handed a new contract, as the Blues look to bounce back from their miserable end to the campaign, where they lost eight consecutive home matches to finish 19th in the National League.
“When the gaffer tells you that he’s got that belief in you and backs it up with a new contract, it means a lot,” he added.
“There’s a part of you which worries then, missing four months of the season, that you’ve been forgotten about, so there was a sense of relief when I went in and was offered a new deal. I’m certainly grateful to the gaffer for keeping the faith.
“I live in Sheffield so I’ve not seen the other lads but I know we’re all intent on getting back on track next season and starting well. We need to recapture the form when we went on our good run before Christmas, we all know we can do it.”
Many Blues’ fans could be forgiven for wondering why the ex-Burton, Torquay and Grimsby winger was absent from action for almost five months, with two separate serious injuries ruling him out for the season.
“I picked up the back injury at Braintree, I thought I could train with it for a few weeks but I just went and made it worse,” he explained.
“It was getting worse so Kath (Hopwood, club physio) recommended I go see a chiropractor. I went to see the specialist and they said it needed about a month so I rested and it felt better when I started training again.
“Then I broke my cheekbone in training, it was just one of those things, an accident. I needed an operation as the cheekbone had pressed into my jaw. It was quite bad.
“And that was that in terms of the season as the doctor said I’d need six to eight weeks rest, which took us to the last game of the season. So I’ve just been unable to do any contact sport since then, my legs have been working fine so it’s frustrating.
“If we’d had another month of the season, I could’ve played but wearing a mask. But now I’ll be able to rejoin the group for pre-season and be straight into it.”
See full story in the Chester Leader