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Russell relishing ‘tough’ challenge at Ilkeston

Ilkeston FC striker Antwan Russell has quickly discovered how tough English football can be.

But he is relishing the challenge.

“The standard of play here is quite high compared to back home and it is definitely more physical,” he told his club’s website. “But that is the way I like it I never shy away from that side of the game.”

The Robin Hood and Bermuda international joined the Robins till the end of the current season late last month, opening his scoring account in only his second appearance coming off the bench as a substitute in his club’s 2-2 draw with league leaders North Ferribly United.

“I was delighted to get off the mark in only my second game,” said the grandson of local Sports Hall of Fame footballer Earl (Townsey) Russell. “I was pretty pleased with the goal. I turned and saw there was just one man to beat so I thought I’d give it a go and luckily it came off.

“I always say that the first goal for the club is the hardest. So now that’s out of the way I hope that there will be quite a few more to come.”

Having opened his scoring account, Russell has now set his sights on staking a starting role in manager Kevin Wilson’s squad.

“I’d love to start a game before too long and hopefully I can make an impact for Ilkeston FC,” he said. “There are some good players in the squad but I knew that when I came in. I think having that competition there brings out the best in you.”

Russell has also expressed a willingness to remain with the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier League club beyond his current deal.

“I would definitely be open to signing here, but I know I have to impress the manager first,” he noted. “I would like to think I have something to offer and it’s all about showing that in the remaining games and seeing how it goes from there. “

Helping Russell acclimatise to his new environment Robin Hood coach and fellow Bermudian Kyle Lightbourne, who knows a thing or two about English football having previously suited up for the likes of Coventry City, Walsall and Stoke City.

“It does help to know that someone you respect like Kyle has done it before you and he has given ne some good advice about how to cope with coming over,” Russell said. “It’s not easy because it is a different culture and climate, but he is supporting me well and it’s great to have him in my corner.”

He is also receiving the support of those at his new club.

“The way that the lads have been has helped me settle in really easily,” Russell said.

The striker is the first local footballer to benefit from the new partnership between Ilkeston FC and Bermuda Hogges that will also see youngsters participate in an extended Academy programme.

“I hope the partnership with Ilkeston FC and the Bermuda Hogges works out,” Russell said. “I think it will be mutually beneficial.”

Encouraging start: Antwan Russell

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Published April 18, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm)

Russell relishing ‘tough’ challenge at Ilkeston

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