The Imps have been credited with an interest in 29-year-old Morecambe striker Cole Stockton, who is out of contract this summer.
The rumour has come from journalist Alan Nixon of The S*n, and as a ‘reputable’ journalist, I would usually cover it anyway. However, sources have told me that the rumour may have some legs, nothing concrete, but that it may not just be paper talk. That’s worth looking at a little closer.
Firstly, there’s always a big-name striker the Imps are associated with, be it by fans or the press. Over the years, the likes of Michael Bridges, Ricky Miller, Jayden Stockley, Tyler Walker and Danny Hylton have all been mentioned, and every so often, one actually happens. Could Stockton be the one? Would we want him to be?
I’ll confess, when he signed for Morecambe, I was unimpressed. Up until last season, he wasn’t a player I eyed with envy – a moderate goals return in spells at Tranmere, Hearts and Carlisle didn’t mark him out as particularly special. However, in the past couple of seasons, he’s proven to be a revelation. He smashed 26 last season, 23 in the league, and added ten in all competitions this season, three of those against us.
He’s a big, strong player who can conjure up a goal from nowhere, and he’s been hot property as recently as last summer. If we were looking, it would signal an intention to perhaps go 3-5-2 next season, the same formation that we played for the final half-hour against Shrewsbury. That would mean two strikers, perhaps a combination of House, Mandroiu and Stockton, or at least the option to play as such.
There’s no doubt the rumour itself will get fans drooling. He’s the sort of player who inevitably gets mentioned as a top talent because of what he’s done against us, and them going down frees him up for a move into our division. At Morecambe, I’d heard strong rumours Wrexham were also interested, which would be closer to his Huyton home.
Can Hollywood’s millions make up for missing out on trips to Pride Park, Fratton Park, and the Madejski? Or could a two-year deal in League One with ambitious Lincoln City, established in the division, be enough to give us the big-name signing many fans crave?
Signing Cole Stockton would not fit our profile, but operating under any hard and fast structure too rigidly could be restrictive and we’ve demonstrated before we’re not limiting ourselves. We proved last season, signing John Marquis, that we’re able to deviate if needed. Could Stockton be the sort of signing that adds value to some of the younger players and helps them become even better and, crucially, worth even more?
Could Cole Stockton become Matt Rhead Mk II, the player we have that everyone loves to hate outside of the club? Time will tell, but the fact we’re being linked with him underlines what I said yesterday about us being a firmly established League One club now. He’s the sort of name that can help push us towards becoming an established top-half League One club.