Blyth Spartans boss Michael Nelson issues challenge to 'rough diamond' Kurt Russell

Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson has challenged “rough diamond” Kurt Russell to grasp the opportunity he has been given at the National League North club.

By Mark Carruthers
Friday, 2nd October 2020, 2:22 pm
Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson. (Photo credit: Kris Hodgetts)
Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson. (Photo credit: Kris Hodgetts)

The former Newcastle United academy winger has impressed after spending pre-season on trial at Croft Park and has earned himself a one-year deal to join Nelson’s squad for the upcoming season.

Following the retirement of Spartans legend Robbie Dale, Russell could even be handed a competitive debut in Saturday’s highly-anticipated FA Cup second qualifying round tie at Whitley Bay.

The 20-year-old winger left Newcastle in the summer of 2018 and went on to have spells with Croatian club NK Novigrad and Northern League club Newcastle Benfield.

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He has featured in all of Spartans pre-season friendlies and Nelson has revealed that an improvement in Russell’s confidence and a willingness to learn have been the key factors behind the decision to extend his stay at the club.

He explained: “We have seen an improvement in Kurtis’ attitude towards himself and he doesn’t beat himself up as much.

“He still gets disappointed and upset with things that might not go his way – but it doesn’t impact on his game as it was when he first came to the club.

“That shows me that he can take things on board, learn and do what we are asking of him.

“For all of his ability on the ball, if didn’t see the ability to take things on board, he wouldn’t have got a deal.

“He’s adapted, he’s changed and that’s tipped it over the edge for us.

“Now the challenge for him is to make sure we don’t just see flashes of his ability here and there.

“We need that consistency in his game, and I am sure that will come with experience.

“He is a bit of a rough diamond, he needs work, but he has a great opportunity ahead of him.

“It’s down to him to grasp that opportunity now.”

Meanwhile, Blyth also confirmed Greek defender Alex Sakellaropoulos and former Middlesbrough midfielder Priestley Griffiths have joined on a non-contract basis.