Friday 20 October 2017

Bleak Celtic future for Anthony Stokes following two-week suspension for Twitter outburst

Celtic's Anthony Stokes
Celtic's Anthony Stokes

Joe McHugh

Anthony Stokes has been suspended for two weeks and refused access to Celtic's Lennoxtown Training Centre as the dispute between the player and the club escalated.

It is understood the club have instigated disciplinary action after manager Ronny Deila accused the Irishman of disrespecting his team-mates by taking to social media to air his frustrations.

The 27-year-old, who hasn't kicked a first team ball since August 22, hit the headlines on Sunday when he turned to Twitter to express his anger about his first team exile.

Stokes was an unused substitute against Ajax last Thursday but after finding out he was dropped from the bench for the match at Inverness he sarcastically tweeted: 'Buzzing to be brought all the way up to Inverness with the team to sit in the stands today. Lovely weather for it too.'

Shortly afterwards he added: 'Who gives a f*** about wages when you’re not playing! It’s about playing and contributing, not picking up a wage.’

Stokes later apologised on Twitter for his outburst but hasn't deleted the comments.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila has gone on record to say that he prefers to educate rather than punish players but after Sunday's incident Stokes has been fined two weeks wages.

Despite effectively being out of the first team picture Stokes has continued to train with the first team and rarely been called on to play in the Development League (reserves). That changed yesterday when he was turned away when he arrived for training.

Speaking to the Daily Mail a source close to the player said: “Anthony is surprised and disappointed Celtic have taken this action. All he wants is to play football for his club.

“He doesn’t care about the wages, he wants to play football and make a contribution and that was the point of the Tweets he later apologised for publicly.

“He has scored 59 goals in 107 starts for Celtic and feels frustrated he can’t get in the team.

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“When Kris Commons indulged in a very public show of dissent towards Ronny and John Collins during the Molde game recently he was spared a suspension. Anthony finds it surprising his actions merit a suspension when that didn’t.

“The player recently became a father for the second time and has to think of his family here.

“Football is a short career and he wants to play games. When he is not playing, he is not contributing and his value decreases. That’s his concern.’

“It’s about reacting to your values. I will talk to him about it. What’s important for Stokesy is that he has to show the work first before he speaks. If you do that you have a future.”

Stokes signed a three year contract in October 2013 but was told in July that he was unlikely to figure in Deila's top team plans.

Neil Lennon expressed an interest in taking the striker on loan to Bolton but the Championship side were unable to match his Celtic wages.

There is likely to be a couple of Championship sides interested in signing Stokes when the January transfer window opens but with his career apparently in freefall it's likely that he'll have to accept a pay cut if he is to escape from Celtic.

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