Why veteran David Stockdale is worth a punt for Leeds United
Marcelo Bielsa opted against bringing in any replacement following the £3.5million sale of Bailey Peacock-Farrell to Burnley in the summer, with French U-20 international Illan Meslier coming through the door on loan from FC Lorient to provide temporary cover in the goalkeeping department. (Sunday People h/t Birmingham Mail)
Kiko Casilla, who was roped in from Real Madrid back in January last season, has continued to excel as the undisputed No.1 between the sticks in the Championship this term, with designated understudy Meslier yet to play even a single minute of first-team football so far.
The Spaniard has managed an impressive tally of 8 shut-outs in 16 league outings while conceding a miserly 9 goals so far to guide the Whites to the best defensive record in the division and his red-hot form between the sticks has been instrumental in the club’s surge for promotion.
However, as per the report, Bielsa is still very much aware of the lack of experienced back-ups in the goalkeeping ranks and David Stockdale has been identified as someone who fits the bill perfectly.
The 34-year-old has largely played second-fiddle to Lee Camp at St. Andrew’s under Pep Clotet in the Championship, with his only involvement so far this season coming in the Blues’ 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Portsmouth back in August.
The Leeds-born shot-stopper, who joined Birmingham City from Brighton and Hove Albion in 2017 after guiding the Seagulls to Premier League promotion, served as the first-choice in the Championship in the 2017-18 campaign but he has found himself farmed out on loan to Southend United, Wycombe Wanderers and Coventry City since.
Stockdale was retained by Clotet prior to the start of the ongoing campaign but he has only warmed the benches so far. With his contract at St. Andrew’s set to expire next summer, Leeds United are mulling over a potential move to bring him to Elland Road in a bid to add some much-needed experienced cover to their options between the sticks.
Kiko Casilla’s position is hardly under threat after a stellar run of form in the first quarter of the campaign but it is imperative to say that a potential injury to the Spaniard would render the Whites short of cover, with Illan Meslier still very much a rookie.
Moreover, with Casilla currently facing an FA charge due to some alleged racist comments that he had aimed at Charlton Atheltic star Jonathan Leko, Leeds need to ensure that they have their bases covered just in case the Spaniard faces a suspension as a penalty for his misdeeds.
Notwithstanding that fact that academy prospects Will Huffer and Kamil Miazek are both talented young shot-stoppers, it is hard to overlook their lack exposure at the highest level and someone like David Stockdale, though well past his prime at 34, could possibly come through the door as a more reliable back-up to Casilla.
Leeds cannot afford to gamble on rookies like Meslier, Huffer and Miazek towards the crunch end of the campaign when even a single mistake can tilt the balance of the promotion race.
To that end, a move for Stockdale, who is a veteran of more than 350 career appearances for various clubs across the four professional divisions of English football, would definitely make a lot of sense.
Given Casilla’s rich vein of form and his current level of confidence, Leeds don’t really need to look up to Stockdale as someone who could increase competition for places between the sticks. However, the 34-year-old’s wealth of experience might come in handy during the latter stages of the campaign.
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All in all, the fans at Elland Road might not be too thrilled about the club’s links with David Stockdale but he could prove to be a smart low-cost addition for Bielsa, nevertheless.