New Blue: David Stockdale

Ok, so it’s not technically a new signing, but David Stockdale is newer to Wycombe than Jason McCarthy. A two-game emergency loan spell in November 2018 gave us a glimpse of how brilliantly out of place the former Premier League glovesman is at our level – and now we’ve got him until the end of the season! Gareth Ainsworth can be as diplomatic as he likes about the reasons for bringing the 34-year-old back to Adams Park, but he is here to take the number one spot (and probably Yves Ma-Kalambay’s vacated number 30 shirt).

Alex Samuel’s celebration in front of the hardcore travelling fans after his stoppage time winner rightly went down as the defining image of our long-awaited win away to bogey team Accrington, but Stockdale’s acrobatic heroics on that cold Tuesday night at the Crown Ground were instrumental in putting us in position to snatch the points. A number of top-notch stops kept the determined hosts at bay, but who could forget the moment when he just sat on the ball after claiming it? I don’t recall ever seeing Ederson do that.

Three goals conceded in two games might not look spectacular on paper, but clean sheets are not the truest mark of a goalkeeper’s quality; keeping your side in the contest probably is. And let’s not forget our defence then was nothing on that which has stood so inpenetrably firm for much of this season. We talked about Rolando Aarons potentially being a ‘cheat code’ player. That didn’t happen. It more than likely will with ‘Stocko’, though. He may have only made one first-team appearance since February (Birmingham’s 3-0 League Cup defeat at Portsmouth in August), but he hadn’t played for two months before his first spell with us. When it comes to ‘keepers, that long out of action isn’t too much of a worry. Oh, he knows how to shithouse too, as we saw in his only other apperance us (hit ‘play’ below).

Stockdale may have been frozen out at his parent club, but that was through no fault of his own; he just wasn’t in then-manager Garry Monk’s plans. This is a player who made the PFA Championship Team of the Year as recently as 2016/17 – when Brighton finished second to earn promotion to the top flight – and has been named in two England squads; he shouldn’t be playing in League One.

Now, you might be thinking that this is all a bit harsh on the incumbent Ryan Allsop. After all, he’s had a good season, hasn’t he? Well yes, he has had a very good one in general – even if he’s had little to do for large parts of it, thanks to the Wall of Wycombe before him – but look back over the games since Oxford and they have been dotted with errors. In the last two games alone, he almost gifted Rochdale a goal by fumbling the tamest of shots at Calvin Andrew’s feet, and parried the ball straight back out to Ivan Toney (i.e. the best striker in the league) for Peterborough’s fourth.

Granted, our defence crumbled in the drubbings by Posh, Sunderland and Coventry, but such mistakes could prove decisive in tighter encounters. Rocky’s command of his area is something which seemed to be improving early in the campaign, but some ‘keepers are just never going to be naturals in that respect. His kicking is still among the best in the league, but Stockdale’s is absolutely massive – always useful with the Beast in the side!

Maybe this move can also be seen as a statement of intent by Gareth. Allsop is a good League One stopper and borderline unbeatable on his day, but are we seeing the boat being pushed out in order to kick-start our campaign? Only Gaz can answer that one – and we’re yet to see whether we’ll strengthen in midfield or attack – but there’s no chance that a ‘keeper of Stockdale’s calibre is here just to provide competition. It also means we go from a 20-year-old understudy with no professional experience in Cameron Yates (who’s out injured at the moment), to an established back-up in Rocky.

All in all, Stockdale-McCarthy-Stewart-Charles-Jacobson represents a significant upgrade on Allsop-Phillips-Stewart-Charles-Jacobson, and that’s really the only way we need to look at it. If we can rediscover our imperious defensive form of the autumn, we might just give ourselves a chance of staying in the race for a top six finish. Welcome back, Stocko!

Career Record

Previous clubs Coventry (loan), Wycombe (loan), Southend (loan), Birmingham, Brighton, Hull (loan), Ipswich (loan), Plymouth (loan), Leicester (loan), Rotherham (loan), Fulham, Darlington, Wakefield & Emley (loan), York
Professional appearances 398
International appearances 1 (England C, 2004*)

*Stockdale came off the bench in a friendly against Italy, replacing former Wanderer Nikki Bull, then of Aldershot.

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