Fox ready to show he has plenty of strings in his bow

Wellington's rookie central defender Dylan Fox said there was more to his game than just making it difficult for opposition strikers to score and he is keen to show that as soon as possible.

Dylan Fox

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Fox, 21, made one of the best A-League debuts of recent times in Phoenix's 0-0 draw with Brisbane Roar last weekend. Roar may not have had dual threats Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello up front with both away on Olyroos duty, but they still had Henrique.

The "Slippery Fish" made it his business to try to take advantage of Fox's inexperience by nipping past him in attack, but the youngster was up to the challenge.


Fox's most memorable moment came when Henrique reacted with typical lightning speed to get the inside position on a through ball, but Fox recovered to show great composure and clear the ball away without risking bringing down Henrique inside the penalty box.

"I wouldn't say I'm the quickest player around, but I'm quick enough for a centre-half," Fox said.

From his vantage point as Wellington goalkeeper, Glen Moss watched Fox's display from close range and was hugely impressed.

"I'm sure there were pre-game nerves from a young guy who didn't expect to play so early after coming to the club," Moss said. "But he stepped in and played fantastic, really, and he'll only grow more with experience."

Fox, who is tall and strong but also agile, displayed a mature head on young shoulders when he refused to get carried away with his effort and said he would just try to build on it.

"I tried to do all the simple things first, with my challenges and headers, and as I play more matches everything else will come, too," he said.

"I was happy with my game, but there are always a few things you can work on and that's what I'm doing on the training pitch. That game is finished now and I've got to focus on the next game."
Fox is set to remain in the starting side for Sunday's game against Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium, with veteran central defender Ben Sigmund still recovering from a hamstring injury, and if Fox keeps firing it will be hard for coach Ernie Merrick to leave him out regardless.

Sigmund is retiring at the end of the season and Fox is well placed to establish himself as a viable option for the long-term future.

Fox is in the first year of a two-year contract and there have been reports this week that Wellington is set to get a 10-year licence from FFA to continue playing in the A-League after all. Those reports are yet to be confirmed, but the indications are good.

Fox said he is comfortable playing out from the back.

"I'm not a player who's just going to kick it up the park," he said. "In this day and age you've got to have more to your game as a defender.

"Last weekend it felt like Brisbane were pressing me to try to force a mistake. They were trying to put pressure on me, but I feel like I handled it well and hopefully if I start against Newcastle I can show everyone more of my passing and more of my overall game.

"I go up for the corners as well and try to get my head on the ball. I'd like to be able to score a few goals for Wellington that way."

Fox did not hesitate to leave the family home in Sydney and head for New Zealand when an opportunity to play in the A-League materialised. He had been playing for Bonnyrigg White Eagles in the NSW NPL and making a big impression there.

"Wellington was the first A-League club to approach me and I wasn't scared about making the move. I want to play football for a living," Fox said.

"I was living at home with my family at Caringbah. I had all my feeds cooked for me, which I'm struggling to do here now at Wellington!

"It was a great opportunity for me, to come to the Phoenix. I've been here three months now and I get along very well with all the boys. It feels like home over here now.

"In the NPL you're playing against grown men week in and week out and it really helps you advance as a player. I've definitely grown as a player as a result of my time at Bonnyrigg.

"I got a start for Wellington last weekend, but it's only one game and I've got to keep plugging away and training hard and hope to get another start."

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4 min read
Published 15 January 2016 at 10:36am
By Greg Prichard