With his great shock of curly hair, no-one is likely to miss Marlon Fossey on a football field. The American defender has been talked out of as one of the coming generation for some time at Motspur Park and, with the summer departure of Ryan Fredericks and a space in the first-team squad as Cyrus Christie’s understudy up for grabs, he couldn’t have timed his fine pre-season any better.
Fossey looked more than useful three weeks ago in Fulham’s first summer outing at the EBB Stadium when he slotted in at full-back against Reading, but last night with Italian outfit Sampdoria – and their noisy band of travelling supporters – would prove an entirely different test. The young full-back wasn’t overrawed by the step up in class. In fact, it looked like he relished it.
His sense of adventure on the ball means he meets the first set of Slavisa Jokanovic’s criteria when it comes to running the rule over a full back. Whenever he got the ball last night, Fossey was looking to drive forward and his close control means he can carry it a long way. An intelligent runner and ready of the game, Fossey is a real athlete – like most modern full backs – and he’s got a pair of fine feet that can carry him deep into opposition territory.
He was seriously tested as a defensive operator during his time on the field as Sampdoria took a little while to get into their groove, but his positioning looked solid and you could see that the 19 year-old had really benefited from training with the senior squad. Jokanovic had him training with the first-team towards the tail end of last season and he’s really kicked on over the summer. If this friendly was a shoot-out between Fossey and Steven Sessegnon, who lined up on the other flank, to see who could hold down the right back duties, then the young American appeared more impressive. That’s not to say that Sessegnon was in any way poor, but Fossey’s emergence has been something of a surprise given that the Sessegnon twins have already got more than a taste of first-team football.
Aside from Andre Schurrle, who had another encouraging cameo on the opposite flank, Fossey was Fulham’s most frequent threat in the final third and the Italian appeared frightened by his energetic and endeavour. The consistency of his crossing might have been the only negative, with several either overhit or cut out at the near post, although he did provide the Whites’ most promising moment in the second half – flashing a measured low ball across the six-yard box that Dennis Praet nearly turned into his own net.
We may look back at this period in Fulham’s history in a few years as a golden age for the output of the club’s academy. Fossey has all the attributes to go on to the highest level and, if his mature displays during the summer are anything to go by, he might make his impact sooner rather than later. An eye-catching cameo against strong Serie A opposition means the right back certainly seized his opportunity last night.