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Russell: Pressure is on the Diamonds.

Byline: MARK PIRIE

Former Airdrieonians striker Iain Russell reckons the current crop of Diamonds will be feeling the pressure to reach the Championship.

The Airdrie fan has kept a watchful eye on the club as they brought back fulltime football again this summer with the "hybrid" model.

He reckons this will ramp up the demand on gaffer Ian Murray this term to compete at the top of the table with Falkirk.

However, he reckons they will find it tough against one of his former clubs Dumbarton this weekend after they "got off to a really decent start" and sit joint top of the table.

"I always check the Airdrie score first, and they have struggled a wee bit," he told the Advertiser.

"They have the hybrid model and it can be tough for players to settle into that kind of thing. There is a wee bit of added pressure with full-time players, though they should be challenging.

"In my opinion, for the size of the club and the players they have they should be in the Championship."

He went on: "Everyone knows that Falkirk should go up because they are full-time, but you look at Dunfermline when they were in League One. It took them a few years to get out of the league, so full-time doesn't always mean you'll win the league.

"Also Raith have struggled since they came down as well, so it's not a guarantee for Falkirk.

"Hopefully Airdrie can be the team that puts the pressure on them this season at the top of the table."

The 36-year-old admits he still has regrets about not reaching the Championship while at New Broomfield, but says if former chairman Tom Wotherspoon had not pulled funding that summer he is convinced they would have won the division the following season.

He continued: "We should have kept the same side and went on to win the league.

"We lost to Alloa and missed out to Livingston, but you look at how those teams have got on since; they were ready to go up.

"We did concede a lot of goals, but I think if we had kept the manager [Mark Wilson] and the squad together we could have gone on to win the league."

Having left the Sons at the end of last season, he admits he is surprised by their start to the season but praised the skill of Jim Duffy to "make a team hard to beat."

The striker, who is currently playing for Pollok in the juniors, said: "At Dumbarton last season I think we should have at least have been aiming to make the play-off places.

"For one reason or another things just weren't working under Stevie [Aitken] and when Jim came in he made us that bit harder to beat.

"From February onward we got a bit better and were keeping the goals out.

"Then, at the top end of the park, Dom Thomas came in and scored plenty of goals to pull us up the table.

"This season, I did think they were going to find it tough but it shows that when you're keeping goals out you just need to get the odd goal.

"When I saw the score against Falkirk [6-0 defeat] I was worried for them but they are now tough to break down, and just need to take their chances when they come."

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Publication:Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser (Lanarkshire, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 11, 2019
Words:563
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