MARCUS BIGNOT felt ‘really gutted’ for new signing Gary Roberts after his first appearance for Chester ended abruptly when he was sent off for a bad tackle.

The Chester-born midfielder looked right at home as he made his Blues debut, introduced as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 defeat at East Thurrock United and playing several excellent passes forward, but just 10 minutes later he was heading for an early bath after a reckless challenge on Max Cornhill which left referee David Rock with little choice but to brandish a red card.

The 30-year-old, who hails from Blacon, is only on a short-term deal with Chester but will now miss the next three matches through suspension, and it was notable how the Blues lost their creative spark on the pitch once Roberts departed early.

“I’m really gutted for him because like you said, that one pass through to Ross (Hannah) when he’s put him through, I mean I’m not bad at seeing passes and play but not even I saw that,” Bignot said.

“That’s what he brings and I’m gutted for him because he came on and bossed it for us.

“He got us into patterns, got our talented players on the ball, so really gutted. I honestly didn’t see the tackle so I can’t really make an opinion on it.”

However, Bignot remains confident Roberts will remain with the squad beyond those three suspended matches and feels he adds something to the midfield his other players don’t possess.

“Listen, we all know he shouldn’t be at this level,” Bignot continued.

“But he is and there’s a reason why. He tells me he got the ball but to lose him is a real blow.

“I want him but financials will dictate again, it’s a question I will ask the football club.”

Full-back Reece Hall-Johnson missed out through injury at East Thurrock, and with his current loan spell at Chester due to expire on Friday, Bignot expressed his desire to keep hold of the former Norwich defender until the end of the current campaign.

“I don’t know, we’ll wait and see,” he added.

“I’ve had initial contact with Russell (Slade) and Grimsby but I’ve not had it confirmed from the football club if we can do it.

“We’d love to keep him and we’ve missed him obviously.”