Nottingham Forest defender Danny Fox believes Ben Osborn has the right attributes to continue his career at left-back, with the versatile but experienced youngster having played a string of games in a relatively new position of the left side of defence under boss Aitor Karanka.
Fox, 31, singed a one year extension to his Forest contract recently, keeping him at the City Ground until next summer. Having first played there for the Reds under Stuart Pearce, the defender now finds himself as a regular first-team centre-back, and has been instrumental to Forest’s improved defensive displays alongside Tobias Figueredo. Until recently, however, most would consider Fox as being more within the left-back bracket, and the former Southampton man gave his thoughts on the adaptability of Ben Osborn – who has shifted around various positions on the pitch in his career – to that spot on the left of defence:
“Benny is a top player, obviously. I think he’s shown that in the versatility that he has. He can play in different positions and he does really well in all of them. I think sometimes it can be a bit of a burden for him because he can play in so many positions.
“he’s got the energy and he’s got the mindset to play there and he’s good on the ball”
“I enjoy playing with him because he’s full of energy. I said to him after the Sheffield United game that he could easily be a left-back if he just worked on it for a pre-season or something. I believe he can anyway, because he’s got the energy and he’s got the mindset to play there and he’s good on the ball. But it’s not down to me, it’s obviously down to the manager, but anywhere Benny plays he does really well.”
Listen to Fox’s pre-match press conference in full:
Fox, who has struggled with injuries this season, mentioned how the shift from left-back to the centre of defence for himself has affected the way he exerts himself on the pitch, but attributes his recovery mostly to “a lot of the stuff I’ve done off the field with the fitness coaches and the physios”:
“I played a few games with the manager at left-back when he first came in and he’s taken to me and I’ve taken to the way he wants me to play. Like I say, I think in the centre you see a lot more of the pitch. You can point and tell people where you want them to be, so I don’t have to do as much running.
“I’m enjoying it. I’ve had quite a few injuries this season, so it’s good just to be out there playing. I haven’t been putting as much pressure on myself as I usually would, so hopefully I can continue to do well.”
Whilst Karanka spoke about a left-back with rather less debate over his natural position. Juan Rafael Fuentes’ Forest career has been slow to get going to say the least, with the Spaniard yet to make his debut since joining fellow countryman Karanka on Trentside in early February:
“He knew when he came here that is was going to be difficult. Especially when the team is on an unbeaten run it’s understandable for everybody. He knows that if everything goes normally, he will have his chance, but he understands that since he arrived here the team has been playing really well. Ben Osborn is playing really well, so he needs to wait for his chance.”
Listen to AK’s pre-Boro presser in full:
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to his former home in the Riverside, the Reds boss drew comparisons between the midfield partnerships he forged with Leadbitter and Clayton at Middlesbrough and his current holding duo in Colback and Watson:
“It can be similar. Both of them were key for me when I was there. Grant was there as a captain on the pitch and was key when we won promotion. My relationship with him was, and is, amazing. I don’t have enough words to say thank you to him because he did his best. Clayton improved a lot with us, and the only thing that Ben and Jack have here is more experience.”
Forest head up to Teeside having been forced to abandon Tuesday’s match with Barnsley at the City Ground which was meant to be their first game since ending their seven game unbeaten run away to Millwall last week. Fox spoke about how the team would be desperate to finally get out there and make amends this weekend:
“Seeing the state of the pitch, it was unplayable. We were obviously itching to get back against Barnsley after losing the unbeaten run against Millwall on the Friday. But it’s a different type of test on Saturday. They’re pushing for the playoffs and Tony Pulis has come in and got a few really good results and got them playing some good football and effective football. So, it’s a test and a challenge but I think every game in the league… at this stage in the season, it’s rare that you’re playing against someone that’s playing for nothing.”
Images: Impact Sport