Exeter City striker Jayden Stockley has finally sealed the move everyone expected him to make this winter, switching to Preston North End for £750,000.
That’s a huge sum for a League Two forward, but Stockley is one of the best with a goals tally of 16 from 25 games this season. He’s bagged 41 in eighteen months at St James’ Park, making him one of the hottest strikers in the Fourth Division.
He’s signed a three and a half year deal at Deepdale, joining League One winger Josh Ginnelly who signed last week. As Preston look to plot a course up the Championship table, our writers Jeff Muxlow and Roy Thomson discuss the deal and what it means for Exeter City.
JM: The move itself is no surprise, Stockley has been superb for Exeter, but they play a certain way. I’m not convinced his prowess on the floor is sufficient for Championship football. I’m not criticising him as a player, that would be really unfair as his goals tally speaks for itself, but is he the man to help Preston up the Championship? I could see him going to Portsmouth and playing the lone striker role that Ollie Hawkins operates in, but I think this could be a step too far.
RT: I tend to agree. There is no doubt that Stockley knows where the goal is but regarding his all-around game I certainly think he will need to work hard on improving his general involvement in build-up play if he is to be a success. It can often be difficult for the main man at a lower league club, where the whole team has often been built around his strengths, to become a small fish in a bigger pond. Just look at how Diodge has struggled at Bolton.
JM: Doidge is a great example, as is Mo Eisa. It isn’t easy to make that step up and I think some players are more suited to the rough and tumble of the lower leagues. Stockley didn’t do well at Aberdeen which resulted in the Exeter switch, but in my opinion there’s little difference between the Scottish Premier League and our Championship. I hope I’m wrong, it’s a good advert for League 2 when a player makes a move like this, but I’m not convinced.
RT: Absolutely, much will depend on how they use him. If they are looking for someone to become the focal point for a more direct approach during games, he may do well but if they ask him to do stuff he is not good at then he might struggle. It would be great if he does succeed as it will encourage other championship clubs to look at the talent available lower down the leagues. Let’s face it most clubs in League One or Two would love to be on the receiving end of £750,000. I’ll be watching his progress with interest and really hope it works out for the lad. As for Exeter, I’m not convinced Bowman is the answer. He has hardly been prolific so far in his career but then neither was Stockley until he joined them. Supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed history repeats itself.