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Wilcox on his Iron return

23 January 2019

Newly appointed Under-23s manager Russ Wilcox is delighted to be back in the familiar surroundings of Glanford Park after being appointed in the new role last week.

The former Iron player and manager returns to United just over four years after departing, but his time with the club goes right back to 1997 when he joined as a player. He went on to make 151 appearances and score four goals, but that was just the beginning of his affiliation with Scunthorpe.

He’d be assistant manager, caretaker manager and then manager of the first team and returns back to the Iron in another new capacity.

Wilcox spoke to iFollow Iron in an interview just days after his appointment had been confirmed.

RW: It’s a nice feeling to be back at a club that I know so well. It’s very exciting. There’s nothing in place at the moment, so the next few months will be spent doing that. The Chairman approached me regarding the role, which is really pleasing with my history of the club. There’s lots of work to do moving forward for next season. I’ve done different roles in football and this is a different one. It’s exciting as it’s a blank piece of paper that I can put my mark on. The club obviously have guidelines of what they want, but I’m excited by it.

RW: It’s really early stages. We’ve got some meetings planned in the next few weeks with local colleges and local clubs and we’ll be taking it from there. We’ve got to get ourselves into a league and hopefully develop some players for Scunthorpe United. It’s about bridging the gap between the youth team and the first team. It’s always difficult for a youth team player to jump straight to the first team and this will act as a little building block that hopefully gives them a better opportunity. It’s going to take time and that’s the key. There has to be some patience with it. We’ve tried it at other clubs that I’ve been at. It does take a couple of years to get bedded in, but hopefully in a few years time you’ll see homegrown young players playing for Scunthorpe United.

RW: It’ll be a mix. Some of the first team squad who don’t play for the gaffer on a Saturday (in the first team) will need to keep their game up to speed if there’s an Under-23s game on the Tuesday. That’s how it was when I came through at Doncaster Rovers as a YT. I think you develop better with better players around you. It’ll be a separate squad. We haven’t got the facilities at the moment. We’ve only got one pitch for the first team, so it’ll have to be at a different venue. We’ll be based at the club to start with and we will be mixing with the first team. The gaffer will decide who trains with which squad. 

RW: There’s obviously a lot of recruitment to do. We’re hopefully going to get some players that come through from the youth team to get a first year deal. Recruitment-wise we’re then going to have to pluck players from all over. We’re hoping to stay local-ish - players from top clubs that aren’t quite good enough at their level can hopefully come and help us. It’s a second chance for those players and it happened to myself. I got released from Doncaster Rovers, so I’ve stood in those shoes. You have to work your way back. I managed to do that and got back in at Northampton. It’s great for me to have that experience as well and I can relate that back to the players. It’s how you respond to it. 

RW: It’s really pleasing. They’ve had to bide their time and have a couple of loan spells away from the club. They’ve both grabbed this opportunity. That’s great for us in a recruitment sense because we can use both those names as prime examples to being patient as well. They’re both 22-years-old, so they’re not kids anymore, but they’ve had to be patient to get their opportunity in first team football.

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