North End boost their firepower

3 Jan 2019 02:35

STRIKER Jayden Stockley has become Preston North End's second new signing of the New Year as manager Alex Neil looks to boost his options upfront.

The Lillywhites have paid an undisclosed fee to Exeter City for their top scorer, who has agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal to make his Deepdale move.

And manager Alex Neil is hoping he will hit the ground running as PNE look to move up the table and avoid being dragged into a relegation fight in the second half of the season.

Just three days into the January transfer window, Stockley joins winger Josh Ginnelly, who was signed on New Year's Day from Walsall, as a new face in the North End dressing room.

In 98 appearances for the St James Park club, 25-year-old Stockley scored 51 goals and was the top scorer in all four English leagues in 2018, ahead of Liverpool's Mo Salah. He also scored more headed goals in the calendar year than any player in the top European leagues.

North End beat off competition from a number of other Championship clubs to sign the Poole-born forward. Wigan were one of the sides reported to be interested in him.

He told PNE's official website: "I can't wait to meet all the boys and get training, once everything is sorted out from a business end you want to get the football going as soon as possible and to help the boys.

"I'm glad I can come here in a rich vein of form and hopefully I can continue that and offer my qualities to this already strong team. I feel confident and I'm very thankful for the move."

Manager Neil is pleased to have got his man. He said: "We have spoken at length about having a big target man since Jordan Hugill left.

"He is six foot three, he has scored the most headed goals in Europe this year and I think we've got someone who, when the going gets tough and teams hunt us and press us, we can turn the ball up to him, work around him and now when team's sit in, we can put the ball into the box and expect the big fella to hopefully get on the end of some of them.

"He will certainly give us a different option. He is a good age as well, 25, and he is fully fit. He has been playing regularly for Exeter, which is a big thing, because sometimes when you do business in January, you can bring in guys who haven't been playing, whereas that is not the case here and we hope he can come in and hit the ground running.

"He went up to Aberdeen and then came back down to Exeter, so he is very similar to a lot of our squad where he has done it the hard way to get to this level and hopefully, we can now give him a platform where he can go and thrive."

Stockley is cup tied for the weekend's clash with Doncaster Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup and will be available for the first time when PNE take on Swansea City at Deepdale on Saturday 12th January.

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