English footballer Kadeem Harris's fears over life in Ukraine at Metalist Kharkiv

Londoner joined Ukrainian team in September and has reassured his family he is safe

Kadeem Harris in action for Metalist Kharkiv in October last year. Alamy

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Kadeem Harris admits he faces a “worrying time” amid the escalating Ukraine-Russia crisis after swapping Yorkshire for Kharkiv.

The former Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday winger joined Ukrainian club Metalist Kharkiv in September, describing the move as a “no-brainer” when told of their ambitious three-year plan.

But the 28-year-old’s switch has proved anything but straightforward, with Russian troops entering eastern Ukraine this week amid fears that president Vladimir Putin could launch a full-scale invasion.

“Over here there seems to be no worry,” Harris said. “It’s just something that’s been ongoing for years. That’s what I get from the players here.

“But for myself and my family it is definitely something to think about. No one wants their son or partner in the middle of a crisis or a war.

“They are worried. But I keep having to reassure them from my end.

“They keep trying to reassure me and I keep trying to reassure my family. It is a bit of a worrying time.”

Harris is currently at Metalist’s Turkish training camp with the Ukrainian domestic season on a winter break.

The squad is due back in Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second largest city and less than 30 miles from the Russian border — in just a few days’ time, and Harris says the club are monitoring the situation carefully.

He told WalesOnline: “If anything was to happen, which hopefully it doesn’t, there are measures in place for me and for other players where we will be on the first flight home or in safety.

“I have time to see if anything does happen while I’m in Turkey. As of yet, there’s been nothing and hopefully that continues.

“We have another few days out here and hopefully the situation will become clearer before I go to Ukraine and we will take it from there.”

Londoner Harris made most of his 217 appearances in English football for Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday, while also representing Wycombe, Brentford and Barnsley.

Metalist regularly played in European competition a decade ago, but the club were declared insolvent in 2016 and reformed three years later.

They now top the second tier of Ukrainian football and hold a 20-point advantage over third-placed Alians Lypova Dolyna with 12 games left.

Metalist are almost certain to be back in the Ukrainian Premier League next season and Harris said: “It’s a big club with big ambition.

“The club want to get back to the stage they were at all those years ago when it was a recognised club in Europe.

“They told me about the three-year plan for the club when I signed and playing in Europe was in it. When I heard that it was a no-brainer, I just wanted to be part of that.”

Updated: February 23, 2022, 12:12 PM