Sheffield Wednesday’s ‘nuts and bolts’ defenders delighting Lee Bullen

Making an impression: Julian Borner gets a pat on the back from captain Tom Lees. Picture: Steve Ellis
Making an impression: Julian Borner gets a pat on the back from captain Tom Lees. Picture: Steve Ellis
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JUST four games into his Sheffield Wednesday career, German defender Julian Borner is in danger of becoming a bit of a cult hero.

Wednesdayites may have loved their craftsmen over the years from Curran to Carbone and Waddle to Wylde, but a special place in their hearts has always been reserved for no-nonsense defenders in the ilk of a Pearson or a Lyons, Shirtliff or Smith.

It may be very early days regarding Borner, but his introduction to Hillsborough has certainly been a head-turning one.

A ‘proper defender’ is the phrase which has been doing the rounds and aspects of that were firmly in evidence in Tuesday’s victory over Luton, with his defensive partnership with Tom Lees already looking a sure one.

Few are better placed to make a judgement on Borner’s strong start than caretaker-manager Lee Bullen, an uncompromising, committed defender back in the day – and he most definitely likes what he sees.

Bullen observed: “He was outstanding (on Tuesday). It was nuts and bolts defending.

“He does not crave the limelight and just wants to get his head on things and kick things.

“His positional play was excellent and him and Tom Lees were outstanding. The two full-backs were also magnificent.

“We are happy with the way it is going at the moment. We have had two clean sheets out of four and won three out of four and got a plus-four difference. We have won well in games and scratched our way to victory.

“It is showing a lot about what we have in the changing room and if we have to tough out a victory, we are capable of doing that. We are up for the fight.”

Bullen’s reference to the performance of the full-backs on Tuesday night was also a particularly salient one, more especially given the display of Morgan Fox, whose display showcased both resolve and heart in equal measure.

Jeered by a small section of supporters ahead of the game, Fox passed a character examination and stood tall particularly in the second-half, with the cheers at the final whistle speaking volumes about his admirable performance.

After the game, Bullen, who embraced Fox just after the whistle, revealed his pride at the aspect, while urging the boo-boys to give the full-back a break.

On some pre-match jeers towards Fox, who was booed after being substituted during the home game with Derby last November, Bullen added: “It frustrates me a little bit as I know how supportive this crowd can be and they proved that in the second half with the cheering and support for Morgan Fox.

“It proved the difference in the second half when they were cheering and the kid was doing great. That is a kid who plays in a blue and white strip and will run through a brick wall for the football club.

“All he wants is what is good for the club and the players are all 100 per cent backing him.

“The rest of the players are affected by that as well, but he showed a lot of heart and strength to come out and put on that second-half performance.

“I think his second-half performance was outstanding and he made one match-saving block in the second half.

“It was as important as any penalty save in the past. That one block won us that game as it was a massive opportunity.”

Bullen confirmed that he is hopeful that Liam Palmer, who missed the Luton game with a back spasm, should return to training ahead of Saturday’s trip to Preston.