JORDAN CHAPELL is relishing being back on the pitch with childhood friend and Chester team-mate Kingsley James.
The 25-year-old winger came through the junior ranks at Sheffield United in the same age group as James, who re-joined the Blues two weeks ago from Macclesfield Town on a two-year deal.
James and Chapell signed their first ever professional contracts in 2010 at Bramall Lane, before going their separate ways, the tricky forward moving to Burton Albion, Grimsby Town and Torquay United, before signing for Chester in July 2015.
Chapell, who has made 68 appearances for the Blues over the past two seasons – netting eight times – explained how his relationship with James, also 25, had come ‘full circle’.
“Kingsley James has been here before and I think he was a real favourite player with the fans,” said Chapell, one of a Yorkshire-based quartet alongside James, John McCombe and Ross Hannah.
“Me and Kingsley grew up together, we did our scholarship together at Sheffield United and signed our first professional contracts together when we were young lads, so it’s going to be great to get back playing with him.
“It’s sort of come full circle with myself and Kingsley, it’s a nice feeling to get back playing with people you grew up around. We’ve gone from being kids growing up in Sheffield, we both went our separate ways, we’ve had a few different clubs between us but now it’s good to both wind up back at Chester.
“It means we can get the car school going as well! I thought I’d be travelling in on my own for a while there but we’ve now got Kingsley, Ross and big John so it’s really good to have people to share that with.”
Chapell had discovered top form last season, impressing in a series of fine displays in November and December, but his season was curtailed by two separate injuries.
Firstly, he suffered a back injury away at Braintree in early January, forcing him out for six weeks, before returning to training only to fracture his cheekbone, requiring surgery which meant he would miss the rest of the campaign.
“It’s all good so far, I’m just waiting for that first bit of contact on my cheek, that first knock, to see how it feels when it’s tested,” he added.
“But up to now it feels perfect so that’s all good at the moment, I’m back to normal. As soon as I got the all-clear I was raring to get back in, it’s been good to have the boots back on and get out on that pitch.
“Bascially I got a knock in training and fractured my cheekbone, so I had to see a specialist for two weeks and then I found out I needed an operation.
“So I had to go through all of that and once I had it done, they ruled me out for six weeks, that took me up until the end of the season.
“I got the extra eight weeks of the off-season to recover and now I’m fully healed and ready to go.
“Thankfully it’s not causing me any problem now. At least with a facial injury I’ve got no lasting damage to my legs so I’ve kept fit and ready to get on with things now.”
Chapell, preparing for his third season at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium, believes Chester’s squad is heading in the ‘right direction’ and feels a central midfield pairing of James and new arrival Paul Turnbull – who signed a two-year contract having left Barrow – could help fire the Blues back up the National League standings.
“Kingsley and Paul should play really well together, you’d have to say it looks like a good pairing in midfield,” Chapell added.
“They’re both two very good signings for us.
“It’s been good to be back, it’s high intensity training all the way through.
“All the lads are looking sharp and I’d say the new boys have fitted in nicely. They have a very professional attitude and the squad seems to be going in the right direction.”
See full story in the Chester Leader