THE third instalment of our EFL Youth Development Week player focus switches its attention to Academy graduate Ben Fox.
Ben Fox signed his first professional contract for the club in 2016, fresh off of winning the Scholar of the Year award.
The midfielder’s route into the first team has been different to most, in that Fox has spent time out on-loan at multiple non-league clubs, where each time he impressed enough to remain in the first team manager’s plans.
Having already made his Brewers debut against Liverpool in the EFL Cup and his league debut in the Championship against Brighton and Hove Albion, Fox’s first loan came in 2016, when he joined National League North side Tamworth on an initial one-month loan. However, after impressing during his spell with the Lambs, the Academy graduate’s time with the club was extended until the end of the 2016-17 season.
The 2017-18 campaign would be the one that showed the kind of potential Fox had. The midfielder had only just netted his first Brewers goal against Cardiff in the EFL Cup, which earned us a third-round tie against Manchester United, when he made the decision to join Solihull Moors on-loan for a month.
Fox may have missed the trip to Old Trafford, but he was able to gain valuable first team experience. Having returned to the Brewers from Solihull, Fox would once again join-up with Tamworth in October 2017, in a loan deal until January.
After once again impressing at the Lamb Ground, Fox was recalled from his spell at Tamworth to be in contention for a busy Championship festive period.
Despite not breaking into the first team, Fox showed enough in his time back with Nigel Clough’s side to earn a contract extension before moving to National League side Gateshead on-loan.
This would prove to be the youngster’s breakout spell away from the club. During his time at the Gateshead International Stadium, Fox scored twice in 12 appearances and won both their player of the month and goal of the month competitions, while being named in the National League’s team of the day on multiple occasions.
Despite his season being ended early by a hamstring injury, Fox had done enough to work his way into Nigel Clough’s plans for the current campaign.
Fox has been a regular in the first team squad, playing 28 times and scoring once, which proved to be a 90th minute winner against Bristol Rovers.
He has also developed another valuable trait: versatility. Fox has not only been deployed in the central midfield role this season, but out-wide, at right back and even at centre-half at times!