Jayden Stockley has risen to challenge of playing in the Championship with Preston North End

Stockley after scoring the winner at Middlesbrough in March
Stockley after scoring the winner at Middlesbrough in March

Jayden Stockley has enjoyed the challenge of meeting the demands which Preston boss Alex Neil has placed on him.

The powerful striker got his chance of Championship football when Neil brought him to Deepdale in January from Exeter City.

Stepping up two divisions had its challenges but four goals in eight starts and nine appearances from the bench was certainly a move in the right direction for Stockley.

Currently on the summer break, the 25-year-old will be back at Springfields later in the month for pre-season training.

Stockley told the Lancashire Post: “The manager here is demanding but he is a very fair too. As a player you want to be trusted with plenty of tactical information and you want the work to be competitive.

“What I have noticed since coming here and making the step up is the intensity.

“I’m not talking about how long we work for – our sessions are not that long – but about the intensity we work at.

“We have to take on board a lot of tactical information ahead of every team we play.

“That is intense but the higher up the divisions you go the more you have to know.

“You cannot just rely on your quality and fitness alone, you need tactical information because you are coming up against some good players.

“I’ve loved adapting to that side of things, knowing what the manager wants from you.”

Neil had wanted to bring in a targetman striker for the best part of a year, hence his delight at getting Stockley 
 early in the January window.

The Dorset-born striker settled quickly with a goal in his second game at Queens Park Rangers.

Stockley headed Preston’s winner at Middlesbrough in March and was on target with a consolation goal at Reading. In the penultimate game of the season, he scored against Sheffield Wednesday.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the goal at Middlesbrough gave him the biggest thrill, coming quite late on in a game in which North End had to recover from a poor start.

Said Stockley: “The one at Boro was very important in the context of the game. It 
definitely felt good as I ran over to the fans to celebrate.

“The goal was scored in a big stadium against a side who were fancied to be right up there in the division.

“We were on a great run of form at the time and the goal helped us get the win.

“A few days later we won our next game and that was the 12th unbeaten.

“During that run we played some brilliant stuff and won six on the bounce away, we were going into every game feeling so confident.

“The March international break killed us unfortunately – for whatever reason it halted our momentum.”