The man who has masterminded Chester FC's rise to seventh spot in the Vanarama National League has admitted he would not have been disheartened had they been seventh from bottom at this stage of the campaign.

The Blues were hurtling toward the relegation places last season until Jon McCarthy took over from the sacked Steve Burr with four games to play.

And, having been handed the job permanently in the summer after keeping the club up, McCarthy has set about dramatically transforming Chester's fortunes in his first full season in charge.

The Blues head to Solihull Moors on Boxing Day (3pm) two places and six points behind the play-off positions after a run of just one defeat in 17 league games.

And, asked whether his side are ahead of expectations, Chester boss McCarthy said: "We are miles ahead of it.

"One point (per game) will keep you safe in this league and that was our first target. What have we played now? 25 games and we have got 39 points so we are quite a bit ahead of it.

"If you'd have said at the beginning of the season that we would get to Christmas and be seventh from bottom, with a little buffer between us and the bottom four, if we're being honest that would have been a realistic target for us.

"So what we have done is give ourselves this cushion, this really big cushion, which I won't take for granted until we get to 50 points.

"And if we do that early this year then that's so much more stability and security for the football club, which helps them to plan a little bit better, which might mean we can get a better start next year.

"So that's what we've got to take advantage of this year. I'm ambitious and my players are ambitious so we'll push and we'll push and we'll push and see how much we can get out of them and see how quickly we can develop and grow as young players.

"But 50 points is still the target. I know how quickly in this league one defeat can become two and then five and six, and then you're looking at it thinking, 'how do we get a win?'

"So getting to 50 points is still very much our main agenda."