Spotlight: Anthony Stokes
To anyone who has ever watched Anthony Stokes, it is clearly obvious that the guy has bags of talent. Yet, for whatever reason, John Hughes is the only manager to get the best from Stokes.
Despite being a child prodigy and being wanted by a number of premiership clubs, Stokes has never realised his potential. Arsene Wenger always had a soft spot for Nicolas Bendtner rather than Stokes, and even 14 goals in 16 games for Falkirk could not help him stay at the Emirates.
Sunderland then stepped in and took a £2 million punt on him. However a fondness for the Sunderland nightclub scene, and some dreadful time keeping ensured that Stokes was never in manager Roy Keanes good books. A return of 3 goals from 36 appearances also did little to help. Loan spells at Sheffield United and Crystal Palace did little to help Stokes confidence.
It was again up to John Hughes to help Stokes rediscover his talent. This time however it was at Hibernian. 22 goals in 40 games ensured Celtic sat up and payed attention, and eventually sign him. Stokes has signed a 4 year contract with Celtic for a transfer fee of £1.2 million.
Despite Celtics embarrassing collapse to Utrecht in the Europa league, Stokes still feels that Celtic have the talent to win a lot of silverware this season.
“With the squad we have at Celtic, we could win everything this year,’ he said. ‘We have to go out and try to win everything, it’s as simple as that.
‘We can’t just say we are happy winning the SPL because if we can win the league then why can’t we go on and win the cups as well? ‘It will be tough, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got a big squad with very good players, so we should go out and try to win everything.”
On the international scene, Stokes has again had his turmoils. Stokes was one of a number of young Irish players to never see eye to eye with former under 21s manager Don givens. As a result of this he was often overlooked for under 21s squads. As a result of his great form with Hibernian, Stokes fought his way into the Irish squad. However Stokes again found himself in controversy when he questioned the wisdom of CSKA Sofias Cillian Sheridan getting game time ahead of him.
“It was disappointing because I thought I deserved to play. I’d had a good season for Hibs and Sheridan had not scored many goals. He’s a striker and he should be judged on how many goals he’s scored.”
His disappointment can perhaps be understood. His talent again showed when he recently scored a hat trick for the under 21s in a 5-0 rout of Estonia in Noel Kings first game in charge.
Irish fans everywhere will no doubt have their fingers crossed that Stokes lives up to his potential and becomes a success both for Celtic and Ireland in the future