Russell joins Ilkeston until end of season
Robin Hood striker Antwan Russell has signed for English side Ilkeston FC, even though manager Kevin Wilson has never seen him play.
Wilson said Russell was ‘highly recommended’ to the club ‘by trusted sources’ and the Robins’ boss, who played alongside Kyle Lightbourne at Walsall, said his team had ‘nothing to lose’ by signing him until the end of the season.
The Bermuda striker is waiting for international clearance, but could make his debut for the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier team as early as Thursday night for the team’s home game against Buxton, if he passes a fitness test tomorrow.
“He [Russell] comes highly recommended by trusted sources and we want to give him a chance to show what he can do,” said Wilson.
“He is really keen to try his luck over here and although it’s bound to be very different to what he is used to — especially if this cold weather carries on — we have nothing to lose from it.”
Ilkeston are not short of fire power, with veteran striker Gary Ricketts, and youngsters Arron Hooton, Alex Ford and Kieran O’Connell in the squad. However, Hooton has scored only 11 times this year, and a club spokesman said they were seeking someone who could score double that number in a season.
The Robins are 12th in the Northern Premier League, 16 points adrift of a play-off spot, and Wilson believes Russell’s pace and eye for goal make him a player worth having in the squad.
“I’m led to believe that Antwan is a quick lad with a keen eye for a goal,” said Wilson. “And although we are reasonably well off for strikers at the moment, you can never have enough players like that.”
As well as playing alongside Lightbourne at Walsall, Wilson was at Notts County when Shaun Goater was there, and said the level of impact that Russell could make on the English game was entirely up to him.
“Bermudian strikers have a history of doing well in this country,” he said. “I played with Shaun Goater at Notts County and when I was player-coach at Walsall, Kyle Lighbourne and I scored the best part of 150 goals between us in three seasons.
“It’s a tough ask to think Antwan come make that sort of impact ... but it’s up to him.”
Russell saw a second trial with MLS side Toronto fail to materialise following the departure of former coach Paul Mariner who was keen to take another look at the 26-year-old in pre-season.
However, Hogges owner Paul Scope believes Ilkeston could be a good fit for Russell who he has backed to make the most of his six-week spell at the club.
“Due to several weather postponements, the games will be coming thick and fast and Antwan should gain valuable experience in this very tough league. He has all the attributes to make a good impression and under the guidance of Kevin Wilson and Darren Caskey, he will undoubtedly improve during his six-week spell in Derbyshire.”
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