Honoured Russell thought he'd had it
CHRIS LAKEY Darel Russell was so shocked at being given the Norwich City captain's armband that he thought he was in trouble with manager Glenn Roeder.
Darel Russell was so shocked at being given the Norwich City captain's armband that he thought he was in trouble with manager Glenn Roeder.
The 27-year-old midfielder led City out for the first time in his career after Mark Fotheringham was ruled out of the Boxing Day clash with Charlton because of injury - but was worried he was about to be axed.
“I was pretty surprised when the gaffer called me in before the game,” he said. “I thought I was either not playing or I had done something wrong.”
Russell rewarded Roeder with a man-of-the-match performance and the goal which earned City a point in a 1-1 draw and with Fotheringham doubtful for Saturday's home game against Wolves because of a tight hamstring, he could be leading City out again.
But he insists he isn't about to lay claim to the job full-time.
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“I wore the armband at Stoke a couple of times but not at Norwich for a first team game,” said Russell, who ended a four-year exile by returning to City in the summer.
“It was the first time and it was a great honour for me to go out there. I was glad to lead the boys out and it seemed like the boys were pretty happy for me to lead them out.
“It would be great to do it again, but Fozzy is our captain and if he's fit he will be leading us out. I will do what I normally do anyway, it doesn't really change me at all - but it was nice to get a goal as captain.”
Russell scored in the 5-2 Carling Cup win over Barnet in August, but hadn't hit the back of the net in a league game since notching the opener for Stoke in a 3-1 win over Colchester in April. The last time he scored a league goal in Norwich colours was in a 4-3 defeat at Gillingham in April, 2001.
“It's massive to get one at last,” he said. “I have been desperate for that goal, especially over the last few weeks. It seemed I hadn't scored for ever and to get that league goal was huge and hopefully that will breed more confidence in me to get a few more.
“I had a couple of shots in the game as well that didn't just fall right, but it was great to get a header in at the near post from a set-piece.”
Russell has started all but two City games this season - he was dropped by Peter Grant for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday in September and suspended for the home win over Sheffield United earlier this month - and is belying the theory that it doesn't pay to go back.
“I only know one way to play - I give my all,” he said. “There might be people out there with more quality than myself, but I make sure I give 100pc and hopefully the fans appreciate what I have been doing.
“I have enjoyed doing what I have been doing this season. Yes, it's a bit of nerve wracking coming back to your old team - if it was the same team as I'd left I wouldn't have come back, but it was a new team that was built and now the gaffer is looking to improve again in January as well, so we are looking forward to it and I'm enjoying the season so far.”