Russell hoping to return to Ilkeston
Bermuda international Antwan Russell is hoping to return to Ilkeston FC next season after enjoying his brief stint at the UK non-league club.
The Robin Hood skipper recently completed a short spell at the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier side where he scored three goals.
The 26-year-old opened his account in only his second match for the Derbyshire-based outfit coming off the bench in their 2-2 draw with league leaders North Ferribly United.
Russell then scored twice in Ilkeston’s 4-0 win over Whitby Town.
A Toronto FC trialist, Russell, who joined Ilkeston as part of an official partnership between the club and Bermuda Hogges, expects to find out in the next week whether he will be able to return to Ilkeston next season.
“It was a great experience, the level of play was high and the league was very competitive,” said Russell. “You have to be at the top of your game week in and week out, but the guys at the club were very welcoming and helped with whatever I had any issues with.
“I would love to go back next season but that’s not up to me, but fingers crossed I will have another chance, it’s really up to the manager (Kevin Wilson).”
Should he be afforded the opportunity to re-sign for Ilkeston, Russell could find himself up against Premier League giants Chelsea who play Wilson’s side in a pre-season friendly at the New Manor Ground on July 30.
Next up for Russell on home soil is Hogges’ Premier Development League season and Bermuda national team’s NatWest Island Games campaign.
“Anytime you are invited to play for your country it’s an honour and to play on home soil is great as well, not only for the players to play in front of a home crowd, but also for the community to come out and support the players,” said Russell, who captained the Hogges last summer.
“If the Hogges offer me a chance to play I would love to put on the jersey again and run out with the guys, we had a good season last year compared to previous years and hopefully this year we can make the play-offs.”
The mutually beneficial agreement between Ilkeston and Hogges could see as many as five young Bermuda players join the club’s fully-fledged Academy each season.
Over the last 12 months Hogges owner Paul Scope has been in regular contact with officials at Ilkeston.
The club’s commercial director Nigel Harrop is a former Bermuda resident, while their manager Wilson was a strike partner of ex-Hogges coach Kyle Lightbourne’s at Walsall.
Hogges open their league campaign against Reading on May 31 at Goose Gosling Field.
Bermuda host the Island Games from July 13 19.