Reports have surfaced recently that link Sunderland with a move for one of League Two’s most deadly marksman, Exeter City striker Jayden Stockley.
The 25-year old former Aberdeen striker has been in terrific form once again this season, rising up the leading scorer charts as he did last time out. In 2017/18 his goals fired Exeter to the League Two play off final, whereas this season they’re hoping to go one better.
He could be tasting League One football sooner than he thinks though, especially if the reports centred on a swoop by Jack Ross are correct. It is thought he’s in the market for another striker, possibly with one eye on Charlie Wyke’s injury situation. There’s also the chance that Josh Maja will attract attention in January and interest in Stockley is forward thinking.
Either of those reasons would be good for bringing in Stockley. He wouldn’t quite offer the same as Maja, he’s not as athletic as the 19-year old but he does have a different element to his game; strength. Stockley is a traditional target man, strong in the air with the ability to hold the ball up as well as flick it on.
Sunderland could play up to him quickly if they’re looking to win ugly, or into his feet as part of a free-flowing attack that brings the bank of three behind him into play.
A move for the striker would bring those attacking midfielders to the fore, although striker Jerome Sinclair is part of that group of players. He’d need to get beyond Stockley for the flick ons, as well as working the channels and letting the striker get back involved in the phase of play.
If he’s coming in as an alternative for Charlie Wyke, that would be concerning to a degree, only in so much as the £1m spent in the summer hadn’t brought rewards. Stockley and Wyke are no dissimilar, both are robust, pick up a booking or two and can do the dirty side of the game.
There’s a third reason he could be brought in of course, strengthening, pure and simple. It might be that in January, Jack Ross has Josh Maja, Jerome Sinclair, Charlie Wyke and Jayden Stockley available to him for selection, as well as Duncan Watmore and even Chris Maguire if he wanted to play him up front. What a selection of players that is.
They say there’s strength in depth, but that isn’t simply piling like for like players on top of each other and the Exeter City forward man is not exactly like anything they’ve currently got. He’s got some way to go to prove he’s capable of doing his thing in the red and white of Sunderland, but Jack Ross would be seriously boosting his promotion chances by taking him to the Stadium of Light.
League One defences beware.