Garry Monk rues defender’s exit at Sheffield Wednesday

Morgan Fox signed off his Sheffield Wednesday career with a victory and praise from Owls boss Garry Monk.
Sheffield Wednesday's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Picture: PASheffield Wednesday's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Picture: PA
Sheffield Wednesday's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Picture: PA

The defender – along with Fernando Forestieri and top scorer Steven Fletcher – rejected short-terms deals on reduced wages to stay at Hillsborough until the end of the season.

The trio’s contracts finish tomorrow and will now spend the summer looking for a new club while Wednesday have seven games remaining to play.

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Fox has prospered since Monk arrived at Wednesday, after struggling under previous managers since moving north from Charlton Athletic in 2017.

And after watching the Owls win for just the third time in 16 Championship games – thanks to goals from Connor Wickham and Massimo Luongo – Monk is sad to see the 26-year-old defender depart. “I know that will be Morgan’s last appearance but I have loved worked with him,” said Monk.

“I know he had a tough time before I came in. I sat with him and spoke to him and wanted to try and give him that new lease of life and trust in him.

“I think he has taken that on board this season and has excelled with it.

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“I am obviously hugely disappointed not to keep him here but you have to respect the players’ decision. We were not able to agree that contract.

“It is sad to lose him but he was involved because he has shown the right attitude since coming back in and his commitment to the group.

“He has done everything I have asked him to do to the very last minute and that is why he has been in the squad and came on today.

“I will be trying to persuade him on the bus journey home to extend at least because you could see today we are going to need those options!

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“We wish him all the best for the future and it is sad that he is not going to be with us but we have to deal with it.”

Fox was a half-time substitute, replacing the injured Julian Borner, but it was his goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith who the Owls had to thank for their interval lead, after Wickham headed in Jacob Murphy’s corner.

The goalkeeper somehow kept out Nathan Baker’s close-range header, and even managed to palm the ball over the crossbar and away from danger.

Employing three centre-backs, the Owls looked solid in defence, and even when they allowed Nahki Wells space, Liam Palmer scampered back to block the former Huddersfield Town striker. Jordan Rhodes, Kadeem Harris and Murphy all had chances to make it 2-0, before Massimo Luongo stabbed in from another Owls corner.

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It was the Owls’ 32nd goal on their travels this season, the best away record in the Championship.

Wickham side-footed wide, before the hosts cut the deficit on 69 minutes. Wildsmith kept out Baker’s header, but Wells reacted quickest to make it 2-1.

City substitute Zak Vyner prodded wide, while in six minutes of stoppage time, Owls replacement Alessio Da Cruz raced away but was thwarted by Niki Maenpaa.

Victory made it four points from two games since lockdown, and brought some much-needed optimism. When the Owls beat City in December, they were third in the Championship, but yesterday’s victory was just their third win since then.

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“The players deserve huge credit because they have come back from the enforced break with a fresh attitude and mentality,” said Monk.

“It started in the draw with Nottingham Forest and today we looked solid defensively and threatening going forward.

“We can only focus on things we can control and I sense the start of the culture change I was talking about as being needed before the season was interrupted. We needed a fresh attitude and mentality because we were letting ourselves and our fans down.

“The players have had time to reflect and work on their fitness. It is only a couple of steps forward, but I have been really pleased with the last couple of games.

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“No one is getting carried away because there is a lot of work still to do. But the signs are good that the players are taking on board what we want from them.”

Bristol City: Maenpaa, Hunt (Vyner 89), Williams, Baker, Dasilva, Weimann (Nagy 65), Massengo (Eliasson 56), Smith, O’Dowda (Paterson 89), Afobe (Diedhiou 65), Wells. Unused substitutes: Bentley, Kalas, Benkovic, Palmer.

Sheff Wed: Wildsmith, Palmer, Iorfa, Borner (Fox 46), Murphy (Odubajo 75), Lee, Bannan, Luongo (Pelupessy 76), Harris, Rhodes (Da Cruz 61), Wickham (Nuhiu 82). Unused substitutes: Lees, Reach, Dawson, Hunt.

Referee: J Brooks (Leicestershire).

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