Sheffield Wednesday’s David Stockdale link a curious one – but the numbers make sense

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore arrived at the club with a reputation for trusting youth and for leaning on his strong academy links in football’s higher echelons.
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His time at Doncaster Rovers saw young players put to the forefront of a masterplan that took them to the outskirts of a promotion conversation on a budget much lower than that of Wednesday. More of the same was suggested.

So far, that hasn’t quite been how it has played out.

Moore’s vast recruitment drive has seen experience preferred. Wednesday had the second-oldest squad in League One last season behind only Wycombe Wanderers.

Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper David Stockdale has emerged as a potential addition for Sheffield Wednesday.Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper David Stockdale has emerged as a potential addition for Sheffield Wednesday.
Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper David Stockdale has emerged as a potential addition for Sheffield Wednesday.
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Their latest transfer link with skewer the numbers further; in replacing 24-year-old Burnley loanee Bailey Peacock-Farrell between the sticks could be 36-year-old David Stockdale who played every game last season for… Wycombe Wanderers.

The Yorkshire Live report suggesting talks had reached an advanced stage has been met with a mixed reaction on social media, with many questioning the wisdom of bringing in a goalkeeper of such a vintage, others questioning where Cameron Dawson fits into all this having excelled on loan at Exeter City last time out.

The thing is with goalkeepers is; does age really matter? Comparing David Stockdale to some of the greats of the game would be silly, but the list of names both at the very top and in the Football League that have gone on to their very late 30s and even into their 40s is vast.

Stockdale will be 37 in September but the numbers suggest he has shown few signs that, perhaps, he is playing some of the best football of a career that earned his an uncapped England call-up in 2011.

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As per Wyscout data, last season he faced more shots (213) than any other goalkeeper in the division. He made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the division (160). And along with Plymouth Argyle stopper Michael Cooper, he kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the division, earning him the ‘golden glove’ award.

Alongside Mallik Wilks, Jayden Stockley, Michael Smith, Ben Heneghan and Freddie Ladapo, Stockdale is another example of a Wednesday transfer link with vast third tier experience.

Moore has spoken about the need for ‘solid citizens’ when it comes to his recruitment so far. Conversations with former Wednesday managers and players suggest the level of expectation on those representing the club requires players of a certain level of experience and something of a personality.

A cursory look at his CV and at a very tongue-in-cheek personal website that went viral some months ago would suggest Yorkshire-born Stockdale has a healthy smattering of both.

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Wednesday are understood to be working on a reduced budget this summer and as was discussed in this week’s Owls column, that is a good thing as the club begin to respect the confides of their financial position.

The bright, sparkly, expensive big-name signings may well be a thing of the past for now and regardless of his age, Stockdale last season proved himself to be one of the better goalkeepers in League One.

A curious link? Perhaps, but the longer you look at it, it just might make a lot of sense.