JOHN McCOMBE believes he can form a fruitful partnership with Ryan Astles, who he feels will develop into a Football League centre-back

The 32-year-old defender, pictured below, joined Chester in the summer, signing a one-year deal from Macclesfield, and has started all-but-one of the Blues pre-season fixtures so far, coming through 90 minutes alongside Astles in Saturday’s encouraging 2-1 defeat against League One side Walsall.

McCombe, who counts the likes of Port Vale, York City and Hereford as his former clubs, feels Astles – who is still only 23 – has a ‘good future’ in front of him and hopes the pair will be tough to breakdown this season, which begins on August 5 at Solihull Moors.

“I spoke to Ryan after the game and said sometimes it takes a few matches to get to know each others game,” he said. “The lads at the back have been solid. I’ve played next to Andy Halls 40 or 50 times, and then Ryan and Rowey have come in and done well in there.

“Ryan has some good attributes, he’s a young lad and you tend to forget how young he is at times because he’s such a big lad and he’s got an old head on his shoulders. But he wants to learn and playing next to him I feel I can help his game by talking and helping out.

“He attacks the ball, he’s really strong and he can play the ball out with both feet so he’s got a good future in front of him and hopefully I can play a part in forming a strong defence with him this season. 

“He’s a good defender, he defends set-pieces well and if he can carry on improving and working on the weaker parts of his game, there’s no reason why he can’t have a good career in the Football League.

“We’re two big lads and like every player we have strengths and weaknesses, so we try to make them play to our strengths and hide any weakness we have got.

“In the games we’ve played so far we’ve not given the opposition many chances and we’ll keep trying to do that.”

McCombe, Astles and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner all came through 90 minutes at the weekend and the imposing defender believes Jon McCarthy side can take plenty of positives away from the display, which saw striker Nyal Bell smash home a 20-yard volley to equalise early in the second-half.

“’m not feeling too bad, I was a bit tired those last 10 or 15 minutes but it was a good runout and psychologically it’s good to get that 90 minutes out of the way,” he continued. “Walsall are a good team, we played them last year when I was at Macclesfield and I’ve seen a bit of them in League One and I think they’ll do well this year, they’re a strong team.

“o I think we did well to compete with them over 90 minutes and there’s lots of positives to take into next week.

It’s something we mentioned that they’d had a lot of possession but we were tight at the back and didn’t allow too many chances. The goal was a bit sloppy from a corner, we need to tidy that up but second-half we got on the front foot and over 90 minutes we did more.”

McCombe was one of a trio of players signed from the Silkmen in the close season, along with Andy Halls and Kingsley James, and believes Chester will be firmly ready for the new campaign when they travel to Damson Park on Saturday week.

It’s been really good so far, I knew a few of the lads already and travelling in with a few of them every day has been good,” he added. “We’ve got a decent team, with a great manager and staff so it’s exciting time ahead of the season for us.

“It’s been good to get a number of games in these past few weeks, so now it’ll be good to get back on the training ground and work on a few things. We feel like we’re not far away, a few tweaks here and then and we’ll be a stronger team.”