We are delighted to announce that Mark Russell has today signed a one-year contract extension to commit himself to the club until 10 June 2018.
Youth academy product Mark joined our Under-17s squad in 2012, initially playing as a left-winger or striker before he was converted to full-back by David Hopkin upon making the step up to the development squad.
He made his first-team debut in November 2013 as a substitute against Dumbarton and went on to become a regular at left-back under Jim Duffy in the 2014/15 season, appearing 34 times and scoring three goals.
The stylish attacking full-back was named in the League One Team of the Season that year and his since cemented his place in the first XI at Championship level to reach 107 starts and 18 sub appearances all in.
Speaking exclusively to gmfc.net today, Duffy said: “I think Mark is one of the most talented young players in the league, so I’m delighted that he’s committed himself for another season.
“He was 18 when he came into the first-team really and he’s now 21 and has become a very established member of the first-team. He’s played over 100 games and that says it all.
“Like a few of the players, his form tailed off a little bit towards the end of last season, but over the last two-and-a-half seasons, he’s been absolutely outstanding.
“Like all young players, sometimes they have a wee dip and bounce back, and I’m confident that Mark will get to that level again and be an important player for us. But not only important, he is also an exciting player to watch.
“For a full-back – I know sometimes we’ve played him further forward, but he’s predominantly a full-back – going forward with the ball, dribbling, taking people on … these are things that are not easy to do in football.
“You’ve got to be brave enough to do it, be confident enough to do it, and, more importantly, have the ability to do it. And I think these are all aspects of Mark’s game that are there in abundance.
“That’s why I think he’s one of the most exciting young players in our division – he does things that other players might not want to try or risk.
“Yeah, sometimes you can be watching between your fingers as a manager, but nevertheless I’d rather have a player who has faith in his own ability rather than just kicks the ball away.
“That’s the type of player he is, and he has been a breath of fresh air since I’ve came in, in terms of having a young player who’s come through the ranks. I think that’s really important, that we find our own players.
“Of course we’ve got to use all avenues to source players, but when they come through the system and become regular members of the first-team, that’s a pat on the back for the club and for the youth academy.
“Obviously the manager has to have belief in the player and trust the player, but ultimately they have to be there in the first place, so to inherit Mark was testament to the work done at the development stages in the club.”
Image: Jonathan Mitchell