BARRY Russell made his competitive debut for Albion Rovers at the weekend and admits he’s loved every minute of his move into the senior ranks.
The 22-year-old from Westwood played the last 35 minutes of a 2-0 defeat at home to Annan in the Ramsdens Cup on Saturday, but says he is relishing the chance to test himself at a higher level after leaving East Kilbride Thistle in June.
Russell has had a positive start to his career at Cliftonhill – even scoring on his debut in a friendly against East Stirling earlier this month – and he told the News he can’t wait for the league season to begin next weekend.
“It’s a totally different ball game playing for Albion Rovers,” admitted Russell, who spent three seasons with the Jags.
“The atmosphere on matchdays is so different to the Showpark.
“Playing here is so much harder as well and it’s been a big step up for me, but I think I’ve handled it well.
“I’m enjoying the challenge and I’ve done well in pre-season, so I’m hoping to be in the gaffer’s plans for the league.
“I got a full 90 minutes under my belt against East Stirling in my debut and scored a pretty good goal from 20 yards as well.
“I don’t score very often so I was pleased to make a good impression.”
Russell, a wood machinist by trade, is joined in Coatbridge by good friends and fellow Westwood players Scott Chaplain and Ciaran Donnelly and he believes that familiarity has helped to settle him into senior football.
He added: “I’m enjoying it so much because I have a good laugh with the guys. I travel with Ciaran and Chappy to games and training so we always have a good laugh in the car on the way there.
“It’s made things a lot easier knowing them but the whole team has gelled well so far.
“Saturday’s result was a disappointment but we just need to move on and concentrate on some tricky games coming up.”
This Saturday Russell’s side host Falkirk in the first round of the Co-operative Insurance Cup before kicking off their second division campaign away to Arbroath the following week – and the left-back is itching to be involved.
“That’s two big games we’ve got coming up in the next week and it would be great to be a part of it,” he said.
“I think I’ve got a sniff of a start in the team and the gaffer (Paul Martin) has said I’m doing well at the moment.
“I’m the only natural left-back in the team so I’m hoping I can stake my claim for a regular place in the team.
“We will be looking to cause an upset against Falkirk but we know they are a good team in the league above us.
“You never know what can happen in a cup game, though, and after that we will be looking to get off to a winning start in the league against Arbroath so it’s getting exciting now.”