‘Tired’ Stokes snubs Ireland
Anthony Stokes has jeopardised his Irish future by pulling out of the end-of-season internationals, citing tiredness -- a decision which hasn't gone down well in the Ireland camp.
The Celtic striker was included in the squad for this week's Carling Nations Cup games against Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as the June 4 Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia and the June 7 friendly with Italy. However, he has opted out of all four.
Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli was clearly unimpressed by the actions of the 22-year-old -- who made a substitute's appearance for Celtic in Saturday's Scottish FA Cup win -- although he said that Stokes will be considered for future squads.
"It's possible sometimes to be tired because the season has been very hard but I think, for the national team, for me, it isn't possible to be tired," said Tardelli yesterday. "Maybe he's tired. Maybe he thinks about the club. But for me, in my opinion, I always thought about the national team.
"I don't know Stokes' situation. I believe him. Many years ago, it was very different, the situation, in football. But I am always disappointed about the players who can't come with the national team."
Tardelli previously questioned Stokes' work rate, while former Sunderland boss Roy Keane was critical of his social life.
Stokes' father, John, also made the headlines recently for unveiling a banner which said the queen wasn't welcome to his Players Lounge pub near Croke Park.
The younger Stokes might have been given an opportunity to stake his claim in tomorrow's Aviva Stadium date with Northern Ireland.
Ireland have a raft of injury problems, with Tardelli quipping that it is like a "war" with all the setbacks. Kevin Doyle and Damien Duff have already been ruled out, and Caleb Folan and Ciaran Clark are also out.
Shane Long, John O'Shea, Darron Gibson, Kevin Kilbane and Aiden McGeady will miss the Carling Nations Cup matches due to club commitments, while Stoke trio Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson are not due to arrive in Dublin until tomorrow morning, so their chances of figuring against the North are slim.
Shay Given will definitely start tomorrow and Keith Andrews is also in line for a return. West Brom's Simon Cox should win his first cap and skipper Robbie Keane -- who will be part of the welcoming party for Barack Obama -- is another with a point to prove.
Tardelli believes that the Irish captain can use tomorrow's game to put himself in the shop window again and, as a regular visitor to QPR with their Italian connections, he wouldn't mind if Keane ended up at Loftus Road.
Leon Best will link up with the squad if he shakes off a knock he shipped on his comeback against West Brom.