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Fox ready to walk the talk for Phoenix

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/10/2016 Cathy Walshe

Fox looks set to play a key role for Wellington on Saturday in the absence of skipper Andrew Durante. © Brett Hemmings/Getty Images Fox looks set to play a key role for Wellington on Saturday in the absence of skipper Andrew Durante. Dylan Fox has come a long way in a short time with the Wellington Phoenix.

The quiet 21-year-old picked up by coach Ernie Merrick just over a year ago has grown into an assured central defender able to communicate with the players around him in no uncertain terms.

It's a quality Fox has taken time to develop, and which should be tested under pressure in Wellington's A-League season opener against Melbourne City at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

"Before I came to the club, I wasn't the biggest talker at the back," Fox admitted.

"Ernie's been on my case at training, telling me I need to be talking more. When I first came in, I felt like I couldn't really demand much of the players because I was new and I was a bit shy.

"Now I feel like I've established myself in the team, I've started telling players to do things - even if they don't listen.

"I've got to make sure I'm one of the loudest players on the pitch."

Fox proved a quick learner at the Phoenix last season, pushed into the starting line-up quicker than anticipated as Wellington's injury-plagued season limped to a ninth-placed halt.

He played 12 games - starting in eight - over the latter half of the season, and showed Merrick enough to secure a three-year extension to his initial one-year contract.

Fox looks set to play a key role for Wellington on Saturday in the absence of skipper Andrew Durante, one of four players on international duty with the All Whites.

The Phoenix will also be missing Louis Fenton to the All Whites and Tom Doyle to an ill-timed hamstring twinge, but have boosted their defensive stocks with Italian central defender Marco Rossi and another young Australian, former Sydney FC defender Jacob Tratt.

Melbourne will also be missing a key player in high profile signing Tim Cahill, on duty with the Socceroos in their World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

And while Wellington have the memory of a recent 4-1 pre-season win over City in Townsville, Fox says there's no doubting the threat they pose.

"They're well-structured and we're going to have to put in 100 per cent," he said before offering a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the likely outcome.

"We're going to come away with a win, and I'm going to score a header."

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