Why Jayden Stockley must be patient and wait for his chance in Preston North End’s attack

Preston North End striker Jayden Stockley has had limited opportunities recently
Preston North End striker Jayden Stockley has had limited opportunities recently

Alex Neil says the use of a more fluid forward line has limited Jayden Stockley’s involvement in the Preston North End team so far this season.

The powerful striker has started one league game this campaign against Sheffield Wednesday in August.

Stockley has come off the bench three times in the Championship, while in the League Cup he made one start and one substitute appearance.

North End boss Neil says the 26-year-old will get his chance again but just at the moment others are suiting the style of play more.

Neil said: “I just think our front play has been very fluid this season.

“That way of playing has borne some success so far.

“When I’m putting Daniel Johnson, Paul Gallagher and Ben Pearson – technicians – in the middle of the pitch, they can handle the ball well.

“They don’t need another link or a target, what they need is someone who can run so they can pass them through.

“Unfortunately for Jayden at the moment our change in style, in terms of retaining the ball more, has damaged his chances a little bit and maybe is not suited how he plays.

“That has probably been the case for Brad Potts and Alan Browne too.”

Until last week, Stockley had made every matchday squad since he signed from Exeter City for £750,000 in January.

He was not on the bench against Bristol City or for the Middlesbrough match on Tuesday night.

Neil thinks there will be games which suit a different approach and that will hand Stockley his opportunity.

“We will vary the way we play throughout the season,” said Neil.

“Because we are playing this way at the moment does not necessarily mean we are going to stay the same.

“There will be a stage in the season when we have to alter and we have to adjust, more so than we have done so far.”

Of late, Tom Barkhuizen has been playing as a 
centre-forward, with Sean Maguire and Josh Harrop wide of him.

Billy Bodin played against Nottingham Forest up front in August, Louis Moult doing so in the win over Wigan.

So Neil has been prepared to chop and change along the front to try and prise defences open.

He has got the option too of David Nugent who has come on in the last three games as a substitute and was close to starting at Middlesbrough.

Said Neil: “With Nuge you have a centre-forward. He’s not someone who can play off the flank like some of the others have been doing.

“There will be games when an out-and-out centre-forward is required. Nuge will be a good option for us.”