England U19 international Shelly Cox... reveals to TheFA.com the reasons behind
England U19 international Shelly Cox... reveals to TheFA.com the reasons behind her switch to Leeds UnitedEngland Youth international Shelly Cox last week completed a move to Leeds United Ladies, becoming manager Mark Hodgson's latest acquisition after a busy summer in the transfer market. The transfer ends Cox's six-year association with the Southampton Saints, a club she joined when she was only 12.
Her cultured left foot and all-round composed game did not go unnoticed and she made her first team debut at only 14. She is now a regular for England U19 who this year reached the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championships and the quarter-finals of the inaugural FIFA U19 World Championships.
The offer from Leeds left Cox with a dilemma but she felt that the move was the correct decision to make in view of her future. "The decision was hard but I think it was a move that I had to make really, to improve my game. I was thinking of England when I went there."
Cox is already in her second year at The FA's National Player Development Centre, where 21 players undertake daily coaching sessions in order to make the transition to international football - as well as continuing their education.
With Cox having to make the long journey south from Loughborough every weekend to play for the Saints, the journey to Leeds is seemingly easier.
"The travelling had nothing to do with it," Shelly told TheFA.com "It was just playing for a better team really. I have to go back home anyway so it will actually be even more traveling now that I am playing for Leeds because I do go home at the weekends."
The left-footed defender cum midfielder was put straight in at the deep end at the weekend, making her debut in The FA Nationwide Premier League National Division against Tranmere Rovers. "I enjoyed Sunday. I wasn't expecting to start but it was a good game," she explained.
"It wasn't the best game to start in because Leeds are having a bit of a bad spell at the moment but things look good. With Sue Smith playing on the left and me playing left-back, it will be a good experience for me to play with her. I didn't even know the players names on Sunday as I only signed on the Friday!"
Ex-Saint Cox is yet another big signing for Leeds manager Hodgson who brought in a number of players this summer including the England trio of Smith, Karen Burke, and Leanne Hall. But they have had a very inconsistent season so far and Hodgson recognised that his side needed strengthening in certain areas and Cox became their target.
"We realised that we had to strengthen up on the left so we had a look at what was around and obviously Shelly's name came up," said Hodgson. "She is a very promising young player with great potential who has done well for Southampton and with England Under-19s. Initially of course I thought she lived down in Southampton but then I found out she was a student at Loughborough so the move was possible."
And the 19-year-old is already making a big impression at the Yorkshire club after making her debut. Hodgson added: "She had a great game. I felt sorry for her because we didn't play well and she was one of the bright sparks of the game. She came in and did a very good job.
"It is very exciting that we have got Shelly and I am looking forward to having her in the team. We have still got Chantelle Woodhead so there is some good competition at left-back and that is what we needed. We needed Shelly to come in and stir things up a bit and she has gone in and done a good job."
With so many new faces coming into the Leeds side it was always going to take time for the players to gel as a cohesive unit. But with the quality Hodgson now has at his disposal and their healthy youth set-up, Leeds believe it is only a matter of time until they become a force to be reckoned with. This season was about consolidation for Hodgson, but next season could see Leeds United start to live up to their undoubted potential.