David Stockdale’s been on twitter saying more or less what he’s thinking, e.g. I want to play first team football. Whether this is the correct medium for the message, and what he accomplishes by making these comments is a debate for another day, but there they are: Stockdale wants to play.
The problem is big, yellow and Australian. Mark Schwarzer’s still playing well (ignore the Man Utd mistake: my view is that these things will happen and it doesn’t *mean* anything, although had Stockdale made the same error it would have been a sign that he isn’t “ready”) and while that’s the case it’s hard to see Hughes making a change. We’re not safe from relegation so it makes every sense to minimise all risks. And switching to a young goalkeeper at the very end of a season when you don’t have to is a risk, doubly so if relegation is still possible.
The concern is that if you keep Stockdale out he doesn’t get the experience he needs and leaves to get it elsewhere. I have no beef with keeping Schwarzer in goal now, but next season the two probably have to start off as equals with the winner being the goalkeeper who impresses the most in pre-season. Man City had a similarly tough decision to make with Hart and Given, and while Given didn’t like it, Hart’s time had come. Stockdale is older than Hart and has also played very well when given the chance, so there’s no reason why the same thing shouldn’t happen at Fulham.
Doubly so because to go with Schwarzer again would be to risk losing Stockdale, who, having tasted an England squad, would presumably not want another season as a backup. You either lose him on loan or by transfer. The loan would work well because Schwarzer can’t have more than a season or two left in him, however fit he might be, but might not be what Stockdale wants at this point (see Ben Foster/Scott Carson).
If you do choose Schwarzer next season, then, you could be choosing 1/2 years of him versus the rest of David Stockdale’s career. (How the proposed Alex Manninger signing fits into this is anyone’s guess, and suggests that one of the two goalkeepers we presently have will not be here next season.) Of course Hughes will be weighing all of this up and speaking to the players involved, but this, for now, is the CCN verdict: Schwarzer for the rest of the season, Stockdale next, if he proves he deserves it.