Friday 19 January 2018

Lennon vows to help Stokes get back on track with Trap

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

NEIL Lennon has opted to make Anthony Stokes part of his starting strike force this season and he believes the Dubliner is good enough to get back into the Irish squad.

But he admits the former Sunderland striker has a job on his hands to convince Giovanni Trapattoni to recall him to his squad after Stokes pulled out for the May and June internationals.

Lennon has already encouraged his charge to do everything he can to get back into the international set-up and says he will do anything he can to help the situation.

"I think he has the talent to do so. Whether he can persuade Mr Trapattoni is another thing," Lennon said ahead of this weekend's Dublin Super Cup.

"In terms of clarifying the position at the end of last season, he was saying he was fatigued and I think he had a few personal issues to contend with as well as regards his family.

"Whether he made that particularly clear to the Irish camp, I don't know. I think he needs to have some sort of communication with the powers that be and get himself back into the international set-up.

"I think eventually he will be good enough, he might not be there just yet, but I certainly think he's got the potential to be a very good player for Ireland. If needs be, I will do all I can to push him back into that set-up.

"Despite the fact that Anthony has been round for a while, he is still only 22. He is a very talented player and he came in last year and did exactly what we wanted him to do -- score goals. There is more to come from him, I think, and he did have a very good relationship with Gary Hooper. At the minute, they would be the preferred choice."

Lennon acknowledged his interest in the one of the players ahead of Stokes in the Ireland pecking order -- Shane Long -- but he believes the player, whom Reading rate at £10m, is out of his price range.

"We have not made a formal bid. I like the player and there is interest there, but nothing formal or nothing concrete. Whether our valuation meets Reading's, is another thing," he added."

Meanwhile, Airtricity League XI manager Damien Richardson has acknowledged that the FAI and those organising the tournament need to learn from events of the past week in order to avoid controversy in the future.

The players in the squad rebelled against what they saw as inadequate terms of their appearance fee and the FAI and PFAI needed intense negotiations to ensure the team participated.

"The reality is that the players want to play -- that's the essential aspect of this week. They were distractions, never contentious issues, threats or anything like that on our part. It was civil, out in the open and it was gone by Wednesday," Richardson said.

"As this is the start of a 10-year tournament, there will be lessons learned from this situation. The basic arrangements should be in place," he added.

Richardson named a line-up that includes seven Derry City players to face Manchester City in the tournament's opening game this afternoon. He is expected to field a completely different team against Celtic tomorrow.

City manager Roberto Mancini revealed that new signing Sergio Aguero is unlikely to feature this weekend because he is "tired" after his Copa America exploits.

AIRTRICITY LEAGUE XI -- Doherty (Derry City); Madden (Dundalk), Greacen (Derry City), McEleney (Derry City), Murphy (Cork City); O'Brien (Bohemians), Molloy (capt, Derry City), Higgins (Derry City), McClean (Derry City); Zayed (Derry City), Kavanagh (St Patrick's Ath).

Celtic v Inter Milan,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 4.30

Airtricity League v Celtic,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 2, 2.0

Inter Milan v Man City,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 2,4.30

Irish Independent

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