Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United – Morgan Fox silencing the boo-boys ahead of crunch derby

Morgan Fox: Back in form.Morgan Fox: Back in form.
Morgan Fox: Back in form.
A MODEL professional who takes an inward sense of pride in giving his all in his place of work on a daily basis, but leaves the fanfare to others.
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Resilience of Sheffield Wednesday meets the beauty of Leeds United

Sheffield Wednesday defender Morgan Fox is the sort of hard-working, undemonstrative footballer that all good dressing rooms are forged upon. Unassuming, uncomplicated and never a moment’s bother to his manager.

It just so happened that on two occasions over the past 13 months, the Owls left-back was unwittingly thrust into the limelight for reasons which were not of his own doing.

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Last November, Fox had the very public misfortune to suffer at the hands of a minority of supporters, who singled him out for stick and jeered him when he was substituted in a home game with Derby County.

Fast-forward to August 20 when the full-back also received boos in the Hillsborough meeting with Luton Town in his first appearance of the season.

To his credit, he took the criticism on the chin and while he may not say as much, it will have stung.

The reaction also hurt many in the Owls squad, which is testament to the respect that the Chelmsford-born player is held in. Team-mates rally around good professionals and good people.

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Refreshingly, Fox has lived to fight another day and did not go under. He fought back and is on the right road again. Sometimes what does not kill you makes you stronger.

On coming out of the other side after a tough spell in his career, the 26-year-old – speaking ahead of this lunch-time’s Yorkshire derby with Leeds United, said: “I suppose so. I think have always said to myself: ‘just get on with it.’

“I am never one to get down about it. I am always the opposite and work that extra bit harder.

“It is all personal pride at the end of the day and I am massive on whenever I go out to work, I always give my most and best all the time. I suppose it is a bit character-building and, hopefully, about coming out the other side.

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“We have got a good bunch here. As well as competition for places, we are all in it together and know what the end goal is. We are all pushing each other and whether that means putting an arm around someone to pick them up or if someone is out injured, you give them a bit of help. We all do it.”

A week or so on from receiving criticism in the Luton game, Fox was the subject of a transfer bid from Sunderland. It could have offered a potential fresh start and reset and many in his shoes would have pushed for the move.

But Fox is clearly no quitter. He has stayed in character to knuckle down and get on with his work and is being rewarded.

Should his solid form continue, it may yet earn him an extended stay – his deal is up next summer. That is for another day and it sometimes pays not to look too far ahead.

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On the Sunderland interest and his long-term Owls future, Fox added: “Obviously, I was aware of it as it involved myself. In terms of me and the way I work, I just get on with it and get on with my job.

“I spoke to Bully (former caretaker manager Lee Bullen) about it, but I’ve always been committed about doing my job here. Whenever I put on a shirt for Wednesday, I always give my most. I am enjoying my football and am back in the team now.

“Obviously, I have only got until the end of the season and it is out of my hands really.

“I am happy here and as long as I am in the team playing, I am going to be. But I always give my most, that is all I can do.”

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Early days it may be this season, but Wednesday’s ability to grind out results in the opening quarter of the season – when often not at their best – represents an encouraging development.

More especially given a Championship make-up which does not look a vintage one this time – evidenced by the fact that no side other than mid-table Brentford have won their last two games, with just five points separating 10th-placed Charlton from leaders West Brom.

Fox remarked: “It is a big opportunity. If you look at previous years at teams who have gone up, they have been with massive high budgets and almost bought their way up.

“We have got a good chance and have a good squad. We are taking it as it comes and if we are there or thereabouts come the end of season, we will be happy.”

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Talk of making statements has inevitably filled the air ahead of third-placed Wednesday’s meeting with a Leeds side who are one place and one point above them in the table.

It is always unwise to make predictions ahead of derbies, but given the defensive solidity that the Yorkshire rivals have shown this season, a goal-fest would appear unlikely.

Wednesday’s miserly leakage of 10 goals in 13 league games is bettered only be Leeds, who have conceded eight times. Both sides share the joint best home defensive record in the division, letting in just three goals.

The obstinacy of an Owls side who have shipped just one league goal in three games at S6 under Garry Monk represents a justifiable source of pride to the backline.

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That said, they are under no illusions that their most significant test will arrive today.

Fox said: “We do a lot of ‘teams within a team’ work and the back four wants to be the best defence in the league and that is what we are there for, defenders before anything else.

“But defending also starts from the front and you look at the way we press teams and the energy we have got all around the pitch, we do it all together.”