MARK Russell’s own eye brows raised when given the instruction to play up front in recent weeks.
Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan certainly caused a stir with the inclusion of the Scot – who has generally played as a left wing-back during his time at Finn Park – in a more advanced role.
He’d been sent up top during Sunday-week’s win over Waterford and he started in the attacking post on Saturday for the FAI Cup win over Bray.
“It’s come out of the blue,” Russell said.
“I started at left back and he asked me if I could play up front. It’s come out of that basically.”
His showing certainly caught the eye at The Carlisle Grounds and it could well come as an astute move by Horgan.
Russell impressed in his new sentry alongside two-goal hero Alexander Kogler as Harps booked a place in the quarter-finals thanks to a 2-0 win.
Russell said: “I played there with youth teams. It’s new to me so I’m learning.
“I enjoyed it. I enjoy playing with big Alex as well and I’m delighted that he scored the two goals.
“We need to continue the momentum into the next games.”
Russell had an excellent first season in Ballybofey in 2019 and retaining his services was certainly a boost for Horgan.
While at Morton, Russell was named on the 2014/15 Scottish League One Team of the Year. Having spent time on trial at both Harps and Derry City, he plumped for Harps.
His first Harps goal arrived in last season’s play-off final against Drogheda United and now he’s looking to aid another survival bid, which resumes next Monday against Sligo Rovers.
He said: “We’re delighted to get the clean sheet and we want to build on that.
“We’re delighted with the result and it gives us something to look forward to when the season’s finished. The priority is to stay in the Division and keep getting points.
“We’ll look forward to Sligo and start preparing. Hopefully we can go there and get the points.”