"Robust, physical, a huge threat in the opposition box" - Horsfall insight ahead of Stockport move
Fraser Horsfall in action against The Hatters for Kidderminster Harriers in 2018 (image credit to Mike Petch)
Stockport County look set to complete the eye-catching signing of Northampton Town defender Fraser Horsfall this week, with the 25-year-old rejecting new terms at Sixfields to make the move to Edgeley Park.
The former Kidderminster Harriers centre-half will end a two-year spell with The Cobblers, having finished the 2021/22 campaign in fine form and earned a spot in the PFA League Two Team of the Year.
Horsfall had been linked with a number of Championship clubs over the summer, with Bristol City reportedly mulling over a move for the 6’3” defender prior to County seemingly getting their man.
“If you had said he would be linked with a Championship club 18 months ago, Cobblers fans would have laughed,” says Northampton Town correspondent James Heneghan.
“He joined from Macclesfield Town two years ago and endured a difficult first six months or so, although that was partly due to the team's overall struggles in League One.”
“A change of manager and formation, from a back three to a back four, led to an excellent finish to the 2020/21 season and he carried that on into the following campaign.”
Horsfall would likely be competing with stalwarts Ash Palmer and Jordan Keane, former Accrington Stanley man Ben Barclay and fellow new boy Joe Lewis for a spot in Dave Challinor’s favoured back three at Edgeley Park, with Ryan Johnson currently the only out-and-out left-sided central option.
As Heneghan explains, Horsfall’s successes at Northampton did come predominantly in a back four - although the big defender’s apparent strengths may well see him established as the ‘enforcer’ of County’s back three.
“He's very much an out-and-out defender. Dominant in the air and will crunch into tackles. He's very physical and robust and has barely missed a game through injury. He's also a huge threat in the opposition box.”
“He spent most of last season captaining the team and was superb at both ends of the pitch, marshalling one of the best defences in the league and scoring nine goals, all from set-pieces.”
“As mentioned previously, he didn't look entirely comfortable in a back three under Keith Curle when he first came to the club, as he struggles on the ball and with playing out from the back.”
“The team were in a bad place at the time so I wouldn't read too much into that, but his best and most consistent performances for Northampton have definitely come as the right centre-half in a back four.”
Heneghan believes that Cobblers fans won’t be too surprised by Horsfall’s impending departure, with the former Salford City loanee one of three high-profile players to be out of contract at the club - but the decision to join a fellow League Two side may serve as something of a blow to last season’s beaten play-off semi-finalists.
“It doesn't come as a huge shock, although fans might be surprised he's staying in League Two and not moving up a division or two.”
“I'd back him to do well at Stockport though. He's a likeable player with an excellent attitude.”
Horsfall will join fellow new signings Joe Lewis, Akil Wright, Connor Lemonheigh Evans and Kyle Wootton in coming through the doors at Edgeley Park this summer - with work still to be done to finalise Challinor’s squad.
Liverpool goalkeeper Vit Jaros continues to be mooted as a potential number two to provide real competition to Ben Hinchliffe, whilst some reports this weekend have also surfaced linking outgoing Bournemouth defender Sam Sherring with a move to The Hatters.
Fans will be able to catch a first glimpse of some of their side’s new faces when County’s pre-season officially gets underway this Saturday (2nd July) at Nuneaton Borough.