Thursday 13 December 2018

Stokes to be disciplined after going AWOL

Anthony Stokes. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Stokes. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Anthony Stokes is in hot water with his new Greek employers after they said he missed training for three days in succession.

Stokes (29) will be disciplined by Apollon Smyrni for going AWOL, an episode which raises serious questions about his future with the club he joined in February.

Manager Georgios Paraschos said: "Stokes has not appeared at training for the past three days. We will be seeking an apology. This is unacceptable.

"We have had no explanation from him."

Stokes has played four games for Apollon since his move, with two ending in wins. However, he will not be involved in today's clash with fellow relegation strugglers PAS Lamia due to his indiscipline.

The striker only ended up in Greece after his contract with Hibernian was cut short due to bad behaviour.

Neil Lennon, the manager of the Scottish club, had given Stokes opportunities at Celtic and Hibs because of the faith he had in his ability. But Stokes pushed that patience over the limit following an incident at a winter training camp in Portugal.

"There's only so many times you can push the envelope," Lennon said, "There is a line I won't tolerate and Anthony had plenty of chances not to cross that line. We've been saying for years that he's a talented player and it's a shame, but I can't keep rapping him on the knuckles and saying it's all right."

Questions about Stokes application have followed him through a career where he has failed to meet teenage expectations.

The one-time Arsenal prospect ended up at Sunderland under Roy Keane, where he was famously barred from popular nightspot The Glass Spider, with the manager of the opinion that it was proving a distraction.

"Stokes could be a top, top player in four or five years or he could be playing non-league," said Keane in 2007.

"He'll go one way or the other, I'm sure. The obvious pitfall for him is the Glass Spider. He's got to be c areful, he's got to work extremely hard and he's got to listen to the staff here."

The Dubliner has managed to stay playing at a decent level, but his career has been stop-start and he's fallen out of the Irish picture under Martin O'Neill.

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