JOHNNY Russell hopes his cruel luck with injuries is behind him as he aims keep his place in Derby County’s team for the promotion run-in.
Russell admits his first season at the club has been frustrating at times due to spells out with a broken leg and fractured cheekbone.
The 23-year-old striker’s stop-start campaign has restricted him to 16 league starts since he signed from Dundee United last summer.
Now, injuries to Jamie Ward and Simon Dawkins have opened the door for Russell.
He replaced Ward during the first half of the 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest and scored a stunning goal before being handed his first start in five games at Ipswich on Tuesday.
Russell is set to face Charlton Athletic at the iPro Stadium today, as the Rams look to further cement a place in the top six and boost play-off hopes.
Derby are 10 points behind Burnley, who fill the second of the two automatic promotion places, and nine points ahead
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of the team just outside the top six, Forest.
Russell’s aim is to play a key role in the remaining eight league fixtures.
“That is what I want to do,” said the Scot. “I just want to play as much as I can and help as much as I can.
“If I can do that, I will be delighted.
“It has been a hard season with my injuries and I have not contributed as much as would like to, but I am back now and touch wood the injuries are behind me.”
Russell broke his leg playing against Leeds United in early October in what was head coach Steve McClaren’s first game in charge.
Then, in the clash with Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day he took a blow to his cheekbone and missed another four matches.
“I could do nothing about the injuries, and it has been really frustrating,” said Russell.
“There is never a good time to get injured, but the two injuries came at pretty bad times for me.”
With substitute appearances, Russell has played 32 games and scored six goals.