Cooke joins up as squad takes shape

Russell Cooke
Russell Cooke

Versatile defender Russell Cooke became the latest Ilkeston FC acquisition this week as the Robins’ squad continued to take shape.

Cooke, 30, has been a regular starter in Eastwood Town’s line-up over the last few seasons and worked under Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson during his tenure at Hucknall Town.

Primarily a centre-half, he is comfortable anywhere across the back four and as a defensive midfielder, and he told the Advertiser the opportunity to come to Ilkeston was one he jumped at.

“I didn’t have to speak to Kevin for long before I was persuaded that this would be a good move for me,” he said.

“I’ve been in pre-season training with Worksop and played a few friendlies there but with the season edging closer I was keen to get a club sorted out and Ilkeston were the keenest to sign me.

“I had a great spell at Eastwood but with the situation there this summer virtually the whole squad was released, and although the new managers spoke to me in June and seemed keen to keep me on, I didn’t hear any more from them.

“Obviously I’ve got quite a bit of experience which I hope will help some of the younger players here, but I’m only 30 so I feel I’ve got a lot more to offer in all aspects of the game.”

Further tests

Ilkeston hosted two more friendlies against higher level opposition with a 1-1 draw against Alfreton on Saturday followed by a young Nottingham Forest side winning 2-1 on Tuesday night. Darryl Thomas scored the Robins’ goals on both occasions.

The matches gave Wilson the opportunity to give some of his squad a full 90 minutes of action, with the Evo-Stik Division One South season just over a fortnight away.

Their next match is at Oadby Town on Saturday (3pm) before former Eastwood boss Paul Cox brings his Mansfield Town side to the New Manor Ground next Wednesday night (7.45pm).

Only a game with Mickleover Sports on August 6 will then remain ahead of the big kick-off against Goole AFC a week later.