Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson has backed head coach Alan Stubbs to get the best out of Anthony Stokes – and reckons his team-mates are sure to learn valuable lessons from the striker.
Republic of Ireland striker cap Stokes is set to join Hoops colleague Henderson on loan at Easter Road as Stubbs adds more firepower for a crucial three-way Championship title battle that also includes Rangers and Falkirk.
Stokes returns to Leith having done little to suppress the notion that he is a trouble maker after taking to Twitter in November to complain about his lack of game time.
But Henderson knows all about the 27-year-old, who scored 23 goals for Hibs during the 2009/10 season before moving to Parkhead, from their time at Celtic and reckons Stubbs is the man to revive the marksman’s career.
Henderson, who is hoping to make his 22nd appearance for Hibs in today’s second versus third Championship battle at Falkirk, said: “I think Alan Stubbs can get the best out of him, I can’t speak highly enough of him for what he’s done for me – he’s trusted me a lot.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for the manager, the coaches. They’ve been brilliant for me and I can’t speak highly enough of the manager, he’s probably the best I’ve worked under in my short career so far.
“He’s played me week-in, week-out and I’m trying to repay him for the faith he’s shown in me and he would do exactly the same thing for Stokesy.
“I think it would suit him here, it’s the type of football that I know myself Stokesy would enjoy.
“It’s passing, movement, wee flicks here and there and I think he would thoroughly enjoy it.
“Stokesy’s brilliant, he’s an international striker and he’s got bags and bags of ability.
“He’s been playing in the Champions League and the Europa League the last couple of years and signing him would be a great boost.
“He’s a good guy and a good professional, you can learn a lot from him. He’s played at the highest level.
“It’s a young team here and the likes of Jason Cummings could learn a lot off Stokesy in such a short space of time.”
Stokes was also being chased by Inverness and Dundee United but Henderson insists the Championship is an ideal environment for the forward to get back on track.
He added: “In Scotland the sole focus seems to be on the Championship, it’s the most exciting league anyway.
“If I was a neutral I would be checking on the Championship scores, it’s bringing a bit of excitement.
“It’s tight and the Championship seems to be the league that everyone has taken notice of. It’s a title race and it’s good for Scottish football.”
Falkirk have mounted a title charge after putting together an unbeaten 11 game run – including a current four-game winning sequence – that has propelled Peter Houston’s side above Hibs into second.
Henderson met the Falkirk manager when he worked as a Celtic scout and insists the race for the chequered flag is well and truly a three-horse race.
He added: “I’m not surprised at all. Peter Houston was at Celtic when I was there and he was a really good guy, and he’s been at Dundee United as well.
“He was a scout but I saw him in the morning at breakfast and he knows what he’s doing, he’s switched on. You can see that with the way Falkirk are playing.
“They’re a really good young side.”
Henderson has already got one league winner’s medal this season following a loan spell in Norway with Rosenborg earlier this year, and admits he relishes the challenge of competing for silverware.
He added: “Personally for myself I’ve been at Celtic and been at the top of the league, and at Rosenborg it was the same.
“I came here and we’re winning again, it’s lucky for me because if you leave Celtic on loan it’s maybe to a team in the middle or bottom of the league.
“In that respect I’ve been very fortunate.
“For me it’s been brilliant coming in and playing, and we’re playing attractive football as well.”