BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Jayden Stockley has been almost unbeatable in the air since arriving at Charlton – but reckons that is also down to the service he has received.
The 27-year-old striker, signed on loan from Preston North End at the end of January, won 17 aerial duels in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Rochdale.
And Stockley also managed a game-high 11 in the previous match against Portsmouth at The Valley.
The Poole-born centre-forward had the likes of Sunderland and Bristol Rovers also chasing him before he plumped to spend the remainder of the campaign in SE7.
And style of play was one of the factors that saw Charlton secure his services.
“I had a conversation with my family about the best destination,” Stockley told the South London Press. “It was looking at the way sides play, to work out which would get the best out of me and vice versa.
“There has got to be fast and creative players around me. I’m not blessed with the most pace. You want those forward players to put balls in and make runs off you.
“I see myself as someone who can bring other people into play and set up those players who like to have nice touches around the box. Hopefully I can give them the ball more often than not so they can do their thing.
“I can then rely on getting in the box, getting in good positions and waiting on the delivery.
“I’m six-foot two or six-foot three, so I wouldn’t say I’m an absolute monster. You do come across people who are taller.
“But it’s all about timing and quality of the ball. One thing I have experienced in the short time I’ve been here is that the quality in to me makes me the favourite a lot of the time. It’s not straight balls that you’re fighting the centre-half for, it’s balls put in at angles and runners off you. So you’re actually made favourite from the quality of the pass.
“That’s a big reason I’ve won so many balls so far. It’s half my timing and half the quality of the pass I’m receiving.”
It was double trouble for the Dale defence on Saturday. Stockley is a handful for any backline. But Addicks manager Lee Bowyer threw in the extra headache of the physicality and strength of Chuks Aneke – a muscular front pairing.
“He is an animal,” said Stockley.
“He can pin someone and they won’t move for a good half an hour if he wants that. He has got that strength where he likes to back in, spin and shoot.
“As soon as a cross comes in you’re expecting a centre-half or two to come and find you straight away. But when it’s me and Chuks in the box I guess they have to prioritise sometimes – and they don’t know who to go to.
“It can work in your favour and allow more space when balls do come in.
“Sometimes you got a front screener from a defensive midfielder. If it’s me and Chuks they have to pick the greater of the two evils to go for.
“We’ve got an abundance of attacking quality. We can go big man-little man, we can go with two runners – there is so much quality here we have got everything covered.”
Stockley is a huge fan of The Office and his goal picture used on social media by the Addicks is a mimic of David Brent interlocking his fingers.
“I’m a massive fan – for as long as I can remember. I’ve switched to the dark side with the US version of The Office. I love that as well, I didn’t think I would.
“Brenty is brilliant, just the dryness of is. When there is a chance to sneak that celebration in it’s always going in.
“I’ve got a really good feeling about this club and the goals I’m going to be getting here.
“I put that pressure on myself to get that first goal ticked off so I can move on from there. It’s more relief than anything. I’m not the most relaxed when I score a goal, I can’t contain how excited I am. I hope that never changes. Even with no fans there it is still great.”
Charlton is Stockley’s 13th club – although nine of his 10 loans came during his time at AFC Bournemouth. Eddie Howe handed him his debut at the age of 16 – the Cherries’ second youngest player.
Stockley scored 49 goals in 98 matches for Exeter City, leading to a £750,000 switch to Preston in January 2019. He has featured 71 times for Alex Neil’s side but only made four Championship starts this season.
“Some games you think you should play or come on and you don’t get the chance,” he said. “We signed another striker [Ched Evans] at the start of the window. I wasn’t getting the game time I wanted already and I knew it could be further limited.
“My thought was to get out. Preston were great in helping me do so. They don’t want a player around not happy and not playing.
“It’s not that you’ll bring a bad atmosphere, but it just works out for everyone.
“I could have hung around at Preston but I had a desire in me to play some football as quickly as possible.
“All the clubs near the top end were showing an interest but a constant throughout was Charlton. The league position was exciting and the people I knew here already were also a factor.”
Stockley has a contract with Preston until the summer of 2022.
“My thinking is that this is a loan to prove myself in the future,” he said. “This is to look at the long term – I’m putting myself out there now.
“That’s why I selected Charlton as an absolutely brilliant option. I came here with longevity in mind.
“Preston are my club and I guess in the summer we’ll talk and understand the situation a bit more about what’s going to happen.
“My role now is to impress everyone at Charlton and show what type of player I am.
“It’s almost nice to back yourself for six months. I’ve been desperate for this chance and to wind up at a club as big as Charlton, I feel very lucky to have that opportunity.”
Stockley lost in the play-offs while on Exeter’s books.
“I was a young lad on the periphery at Bournemouth and saw them go up the ranks. I’ve had a burning desire to be right in the mix for one.
“A promotion here would be massive for me and for Charlton, to be back somewhere near where they belong.
“It’s about momentum. You do look at the table when you’re in this position – and you look at the chance of putting four or five wins back to back. That elevates you massively.
“It’s easy to say about going on a run, it’s only when you’re in it that you sense that bit of belief. That helps in the business end of the season.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.