Alex Neil says Jayden Stockley can make the step up at Preston North End

PNE's new striker Jayden Stockley celebrates scoring for his previous club Exeter City
PNE's new striker Jayden Stockley celebrates scoring for his previous club Exeter City

Preston manager Alex Neil is backing new signing Jayden Stockley to make the step up to the Championship from League Two.

The striker’s goal record for Exeter City persuaded PNE to pay a reported £750,000 for his services last week.

After being cup-tied for the FA Cup exit to Doncaster, Stockley will come into contention for Saturday’s league clash with Swansea at Deepdale.

Neil knows Stockley, 25, is taking a big jump.

But he thinks it is one the 6ft 3in frontman can handle.

“Every signing ever made by any club is a bit of a punt.

“What you are hoping for is the lad comes in, settles well and does well.

“Different things help a new player settle at a club, such as getting on with your team-mates, fitting in with the style of play and settling in off the pitch.

“It is a step up for Jayden, he is jumping two leagues.

“He will obviously find it more difficult than he did at Exeter but we are confident, having looked at the market, that we have got real value for money and he can do well.”

PNE had been searching for a targetman-type striker for the best part of a year. 
Having sold Jordan Hugill to West Ham for £9.5m at the end of January last year, Neil tried to fill the vacancy last summer.

Neil said: “These kind of players are rare, there are not many of them about.

“That is why we managed to sell Jordan Hugill for the amount of money we did.

“If there were a lot of them, their value would decrease.

“Jayden had a clause in his contract which worked in our favour.

“If you were Exeter, you wouldn’t have wanted to sell him for the type of cash we got him for.”

Stockley kicked off his career with Bournemouth.

After coming through the Cherries’ academy, he made his debut for them as a teenager when they were a League Two club.

He had eight spells out on loan, including at Exeter when he scored 10 goals in 21 games.

Stockley joined Aberdeen in June 2016 and spent a year in Scotland, netting six goals.

Exeter took him back to Devon in August 2017, paying a club-record £100,000.

Last term he scored 25 goals in 48 appearances as the Grecians reached the League Two play-off final.

Stockley has scored 16 goals this season, ending his time at Exeter with a flourish, netting five times in his last three games – including a hat-trick at Oldham.