Crystal Palace have a proud history when it comes to bringing players through from the academy to the first-team and in Jude Russell, it sounds as though we may have another potential star ready and waiting to make the step up, after he was featured in The Guardian’s 20 Best Young Premier League talents of 2018.
Still just 16, the defender has been brought into Paddy McCarthy’s under-18 side well ahead of schedule and flourished, drawing praise from a number of the club’s academy coaches for the manner in which he has performed since making the step up. Originally looked upon as a midfielder, Jude was shuffled back into defence after it became clear that his skill-set was better suited to the role.
Now being played at right-back, we can expect him to feature regularly the under-18s with the outside chance of him making it into the under-23 squad before this season is over, should his progress continue at the same rate. As you will see on the link attached above, youth coach Jack Mesure, who is now on his way to Chelsea, speaks incredibly highly of Jude, making reference to his “emergency defending” as one of his strongest attributes.
Palace fans everywhere will no doubt be happy to hear that Russell is a third-generation Palace fan who was at the Play-Off Final in 2013 and the FA Cup Final in 2016 as a supporter first and foremost. Of course, at the most basic level, football fans’ main concern is a footballer’s ability on the pitch but when people realise that he has a genuine bond with the club, it will only increase the feelings of goodwill towards him.
Jude has undoubtedly still got a long way to go in his bid to become a professional but the early signs seem extremely positive; let’s hope this is far from the last we hear about him.