Number nine! Signing, that is. Shirt number? He doesn’t appear to have one yet – but he won’t be number nine.
Once, twice, three times a Chairboy, Josh Parker returns to Adams Park almost nine years after his last stint here. That was a one-month loan from QPR in which his only involvement was a second half cameo in a 3-1 loss to Torquay – an injury sustained while on international duty with Antigua and Barbuda brought the spell to an abrupt halt. Prior to that, he’d been a schoolboy here back in the day. We’re one of 13 clubs the Slough-born frontman has had in a ten-year career which has taken him from west London to Greater Manchester, from the Thames Valley to Slovenia, and from Serbia to the north of Scotland.
A versatile and mobile forward, Parker’s best campaign came in 2017/18 with Gillingham in League One. Deployed primarily as a central striker but occasionally out wide, his 12 goals were a big factor in steering the Gills clear of the drop zone. If he can chip in with a similar amount for us this season,
His performances then and in the first half of 2018/19 – in which netted the equaliser against us on the coldest and wettest day of all time – caught the eye of Charlton, who brought him to the Valley on January deadline day. He only played a bit-part role for the Addicks, but that included 90 minutes in their dramatic play-off final victory over Sunderland. 2019/20 will be his fourth full campaign in League One.
The 28-year-old’s willingness put in the hard yards off the ball should see him slot in nicely on either side of a front three or as a partner to Bayo – potentially reprising the kind of role he played alongside Tom Eaves at Gillingham. Capable of scoring a range of goals from a variety of positions, he’s no mug in the air – and while he’s obviously not going to outdo the Beast in that respect, adding some more half-decent headers of the ball to our attacking armoury was a necessity. If we ever decide to throw the game plan out the window and go for pure aerial bombardment, we’ve got a ready-made front line in Parker, Akinfenwa and Wheeler.
We’re unlikely to have found ourselves that elusive 20-goal striker here, but this seems like a shrewd enough bit of business. And if he ever scores a dramatic penalty winner then the headline writes itself (sorry not sorry).
Quick Facts & Stats
Born: 1st Dec 1990 in Slough
Nation: Antigua and Barbuda
Former clubs: Charlton, Gillingham, Wealdstone, Aberdeen (loan), Red Star Belgrade, Domžale (Slovenia), Oxford, Dagenham & Redbridge (loan), Oldham, Wycombe (loan), Northampton (loan), AFC Wimbledon (loan), QPR
Senior club record: 226 appearances, 39 goals | Debut: 6th Feb 2013, AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Forest Green (Conference) | Last appearance: 26th May 2019, Charlton 2-1 Sunderland (League One play-off final)
Senior international record: 29 caps, 5 goals | Debut: 10th Nov 2010, Antigua and Barbuda 2-1 Suriname (Gold Cup) | Last cap: 19th Nov 2018, Martinique 4-2 Antigua and Barbuda (CONCACAF Nations League qualifying)
While at Red Star Belgrade, Parker played alongside Serbian star Luka Jović, who Real Madrid signed in June for £52.4 million. Parker’s four goals for the 1991 European champions came in two braces, both in games in which Jović registered.