BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Mark Schwarzer and David Stockdale of Fulham look on ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Fulham at Villa Park on February 5 2011 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Rumors popped up last weekend that recently promoted Premier League side Swansea City had tabled a bid for Fulham's head keeper-in-waiting David Stockdale.
With Martin Jol already stating his desire to allow Stockdale and a bevy of other Fulham youngsters to leave the club on loan this season, it would appear a given that the York City youth academy product will find himself plying his trade outside of southwest London this coming season.
But is Swansea actually in for Stockdale and do they have a legitimate shot at bringing him in?
Well, "probably" and, contrary to my opinion when I set out writing this piece, "conceivably."
Swansea is, indeed, in the market for a new goalkeeper. Dorus De Vries, Swansea's starter for the last three seasons, signed with Wolverhampton earlier this summer, leaving the Welsh side's goalkeeping corps skeleton-thin. Last year's backup, Yves Makabu-Ma-Kalambay is now a free agent. Welsh U21 international David Cornell remains as the club's only senior goalkeeper, but is not yet of Premiership quality.
Is Stockdale? In limited sampling last year, I'd argue "yes," though I wouldn't argue the point passionately or confidently.
Stockdale theoretically could be the man for Swansea, just not on a permanent basis. Jol has stated his intention to gradually make Fulham's squad younger, and selling one of the club's brightest young players would appear to go against that logic. Yes, Stockdale is 26-years-old, but, much like dogs, goalkeepers age differently than regular field players, just in the complete opposite way.
It would appear to be a given that Stockdale will be on his way out once Jol finds a suitable depth keeper to introduce to the squad.
Is Swansea where he will end up?
Stockdale looked good in limited action last season and his call-up to the English National Team serves as a firm vote of confidence in his abilities. But does Swansea want to rest the club's top flight hopes on a relatively untested player?
Perhaps. That is the gamble recently promoted teams must make on occasion: do you go with a proven, mediocre quantity willing to sign with a lower-tier Premiership club, or do you go with the young, talented, rough-around-the-edges loanee looking to make their mark?
At certain positions I can see this being the case and (here's where my opinion changed from when I initially started writing this article) goalkeeper is one.
Over recent seasons, we've seen Tim Howard find renewed life at Everton, Ben Foster step up at Watford and Joe Hart flourish for Birmingham. Young, hungry and sufficiently talented keepers can do a job for an aspiring club.
Stockdale would appear to fit the bill. This isn't to say that he's on the same level as the other players, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be. He looked damn good against Bolton and Manchester United last year.
Is a transfer in the cards? I can't imagine so, but a temporary move should be a good fit for a hungry (or is that a bad turn of phrase) player like Stockdale.
UPDATE: Looks like Leeds are in for Stockdale too, firmly on a loan. The short article also infers that Swansea are only interested in a permanent move, giving Leeds an advantage. Good luck with that one, Swans.