Why Callum Morris may be the most important re-signing for Dunfermline Athletic

Today at East End Park, Callum Morris signed a contract to extend his stay at Dunfermline Athletic for next season.

The six foot one inch Geordie centre back returned to Fife in the mid-season transfer window after a frustrating six months at Aberdeen.

Morris left in his first stint with the Pars to move up two divisions with Premiership side Dundee United in the summer of 2014. This was after a couple of seasons of personal success amid a difficult period for the club which was reeling from financial difficulties. Alas, the former PFA Scotland Team of the Year member in 2012/13 (Division One) and 2013/14 (League One) suffered many injuries during his time at Tannadice. As a result, he was not contracted with the Tangerines as they were relegated to the Championship in 2016. Although, he landed on his feet at Pittodrie; where he was hampered by niggles and failed to establish himself within the match day squad of 18.

The defender who is eligible for England (place of birth), Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (family ties) was most influential when he returned to the field of play for Atheltic. He featured in four of the 10 clean sheets in his 13 games for the club. In addition, his minutes per goal conceded (103) was better than anyone else; the near ever-present Lee Ashcroft was second at 74 minutes.

What these statistics show is that he is bringing a solidity at the back that was not entirely present before his arrival. Once he was inserted and became a mainstay in Allan Johnston’s starting XI in the second half of the campaign, Dunfermline looked a far better side. As shown by the fact that the team only conceded twice in a game on a couple of occasions – Falkirk (A) and Hibernian (A) – with him on the pitch; it happened six times in the opening seven games, and another four instances came before January.

He and Ashcroft look a dependable enough partnership; even if the former Kilmarnock centre half can be erratic at times. Both players are at different ends of their athletic primes with Morris turning 28 in February and Ashcroft being 23. Yet, the Englishman will be able to provide a positive influence on his younger teammate, and help bring his game on.

It looks as though he settled in life which can only be positive. Speaking with Dafc.co.uk, he said:

“The fans have been massive since I came back, even when I walk up the town for a coffee people come and speak to you. Everyone is so friendly and come and have a chat. They treat you like a pal and it is a nice friendly, family club. All my family, and even my missus has said that this is the best club that she has ever come to watch games at so that means a lot. It is not just if I am happy but it is everything that comes with me. Everyone is positive about it and we have a big season ahead when we want to be pushing to win that title or at the least, be in those play offs this time next season.”

Morris has proved over his two full campaigns with the Pars just how good a defender he is in the middling divisions of Scotland. He is the best central defender the club has had since the days of Andy Dowie; whom he had partnered at one stage in his career. The fact that he and Sean Murdoch look so stable and organised as the head and the heart of the team with Nat Wedderburn and Andy Geggan as the solid core, it has the makings of an 11 that can duke it out in the Premiership Playoffs this time next year.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.


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