The DM conundrum
Hallgrimsson looks to Russell, seeks more permanent, pronounced character
THE CONTINUED search for a stable presence at defensive midfield has led to a first-time call-up for English-born Jamaican, Jonathan Russell, a player that national senior men’s head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is giving an opportunity to evaluate in a must-win game against Mexico.
Hallgrimsson, on Monday, revealed his 23-man squad for Sunday’s upcoming Concacaf Nations League finale against Mexico at the Azteca. In a position where he feels that there is a lack of depth, he is hoping that he can find some answers with Russell’s inclusion, an addition that was previously delayed because of documentation issues.
Hallgrimsson said that those documentations issues are resolved and is hoping to see what value he can add to the team in a position that needs solidifying.
“We wanted to see him early for the Argentina camp but he didn’t have his passport finished. Now I think it is sorted out. So we would like to see him. He was playing for Huddersfield. He is a huge guy. Maybe, in a way, we are kind of short in this position so we would like to see as many players who play given a chance to show us what they can do,” Hallgrimsson said.
Russell is currently with League One outfit Barnsley, having moved from English Championship outfit Huddersfield Town two months ago.
Hallgrimsson says that he hopes he could be an option for the future, which is why they have wanted to get him into camp.
“If we play him or not we will have to see. But we are excited because of his profile. He is young and tall. He is playing in a good competitive league with Barnsley. He has been playing regularly and he has been playing really well. Hopefully, he is for the future. So we just like to see him and give him an opportunity to be in this camp,” Hallgrimsson said.
Last year, the defensive midfield position had been filled by a number of persons with Daniel Johnson, Anthony Grant, Kevin Stewart, Richard King and even Ravel Morrison when he has been deployed to play deeper.
However, Hallgrimsson is hoping to find the right personality long term.
“Ravel showed us against Argentina when they swapped positions and Ravel played a deeper role and Daniel Johnson played higher up the pitch. Ravel is a versatile player with a lot of experience. We like what we saw (against Trinidad). We were worried about his fitness but he showed in the game how vital he can be to us. So we have more options for this position,” Hallgrimsson said.
“But we need to keep on working and finding players who can play that position. A lot of them played well but we need a certain character. If it is only one player in the defensive midfielder position, we need a special character for that job. Sometimes it is better to play with two when you have another defensive player next to you.”