WANDERERS new boy Chris Herd is happy to be outside his comfort zone – in fact, he seems to thrive on it.

For someone who moved from Australia as a teenager without his family to the Aston Villa academy, a short hop up the M6 for a month or two should be a piece of cake.

Herd’s accent – a curious mix of the Antipodeans and Aston – tells you he is quite used to life in the UK. And this is not the first time the 25-year-old has sought regular football outside the Midlands, with stints in the lower leagues at Port Vale, Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City earlier in his career.

But it is clear the decision to move to Bolton was not taken lightly.

Just 12 months remain on his contract in the Premier League and the last year has seen Herd make just two appearances – Villa releasing a statement back in March that “personal reasons” would prevent him playing for the foreseeable future.

The young man has clearly had some sorting to do, and one hopes a spell at Wanderers helps him on that front, but the player who looked entirely comfortable making his debut in the bright lights of Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night knows he has a job to do at the Macron Stadium too.

“If you’re a footballer you’ve got to want to test yourself and be ambitious,” he told The Bolton News. “If you start getting comfortable and not wanting to stretch yourself then people should ask questions of you.

“To go and make my debut against Chelsea, I can only benefit from the experience of playing against those sort of players.

“In my mind I’m a Bolton player at the moment. Nothing else matters. I’ll do everything I can to help them.

“I’ve been out on loan to League Two, League One and now the Championship – I’ve been kicked, booted and shoved all over the place, I’m used to it now.

“I’ve been over here in the UK for 10 years. I was born in Melbourne and moved to Perth – but then I found myself dropped in the middle of Birmingham at 15 years old. It was a massive difference.

“I moved over here without my family, with a friend, and I’ve been here ever since.

“The Championship is quick and fast but I’m an Aussie, we don’t mind that.”

Herd might have fallen out of the first-team picture at Villa recently but three successive managers – Paul Lambert, Alex McLeish and Gerard Houllier – have all rated him highly.

That he arrives in the Wanderers rehabilitation centre could be down to one of the former recipients of Dougie Freedman’s help.

Alan Hutton faced the bleakest of futures at Villa Park when he arrived at the back end of last season to spend a short but successful spell in the North West.

And yet six months later the Scotland international will be heading to Stamford Bridge expecting to start the game this afternoon, with a new three-year deal in his back pocket.

“I’m really good friends with Alan and I’m really pleased for how it has worked out for him at Vila,” Herd said.

“He fully deserves everything he’s getting at the moment.

“At the moment, my focus is only on playing for Bolton. My contract runs out there in the summer but at the moment I’m just looking forward to testing myself here.

“I’m just excited to be playing football. The best part of being a professional is 3pm on a Saturday.”

If Herd needs a few protection tips to help steel himself for some physical Championship football he might call on rugby league ace Rangi Chase, playing just down the road at Salford, who is another close mate.

But the utility man who could line-up in any one of three or four defensive positions against Derby this afternoon is quite clear on what he wants to get out of his Bolton experience.

“I couldn’t resist such a big club,” he said. “There’s a great history here and you sense that coming into the place, I’m excited to be involved.

“All I’m thinking about now is performing and playing in as many games as I can.

“We just played against one of the best teams in the world and nearly got a result.

“We should really take a lot away from that into the game against Derby.”