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Derby County star Johnny Russell proud to be part of play-off bid

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

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JOHNNY Russell says he is proud to be a part of Derby County’s promotion-chasing side as the Scottish striker prepares to take a step into the unknown.

The 24-year-old has a chance of reaching the Premier League in his first season with the Rams.

Steve McClaren’s men are gearing up for the play-offs, which will be a new experience for Russell – and many of the Derby team.

The Scot has had his injury problems this term but is currently enjoying a run in the side.

“It’s been a frustrating season for me, personally, but I’m not the only player in this team,” said Russell, who joined the Rams from Dundee United last summer.

“I’m part of this team and I’m proud to be a part of it.

“It’s been a brilliant season and, hopefully, it continues.

“I’ve not been involved in anything like this before and there will be a few other boys in the same position.

“We’re all looking forward to it.

“I don’t think it matters who we play - it’s going to be difficult.

“Every team is going to bring something different but everyone’s aim is the same. They want to get in the Premier League.

“Everyone will be up for it and we’re just excited to be a part of it.

“We just hope we can get the results we need to get us there.”

Derby cannot finish lower than fourth but are keen to clinch third spot ahead of Queen’s Park Rangers, who are five points behind them with two games to go.

“First things first, we want to finish third,” said Russell.

“We want to keep winning and keep that momentum going before we step into the play-offs.

“We want third. We’re sitting there just now and we don’t want to let that slip.”

Derby can secure third spot against Watford at the iPro Stadium on Saturday, in their final home fixture of the regular campaign.

The Hornets lie 12th but are not mathematically out of the play-off race themselves.

“We know that Watford will come here and try to get the win,” said Russell.

“But it’s up to us to have the game plan to get around that.

“We won’t change the way we play and we’ll be going for the win too, like we do every other game.

“Hopefully, it will be an exciting game and one we’ll come out on top of.”

Russell claimed his ninth goal of the season in Monday’s 2-1 win against Barnsley but also saw a late penalty saved.

He was also denied from the spot in the home defeat to Burnley earlier in the season, while Chris Martin and Craig Bryson have failed from 12 yards too this term.

“It’s been a bit of an issue,” said Russell.

“I used to be good at them but it seems I’m not anymore!

“I don’t know what it is but we seem to be missing a fair few.

“The main thing is we got the win against Barnsley. I would have been devastated if it had cost us any points.”

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