Ex-Celtic and Hibs team-mates key as Gary Holt insists new signing Anthony Stokes can leave off-field problems behind at Livingston

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GARY HOLT insists Anthony Stokes can leave any off-field ‘baggage’ at the door when he comes to Livingston – but reckons two former team-mates can help keep him on the straight and narrow.

Stokes has been dogged by unwanted headlines in recent times, whilst his on-field career has been in danger of petering out amidst a series of short-term deals in a nomadic spell that has taken him to Greece, Turkey and Iran.

But Holt is convinced the former Celtic and Republic of Ireland striker can knuckle down and recapture his best form with the Lions after penning a 12-month deal.

Livingston manager Gary Holt | Livingston news
Livingston boss Gary Holt

He said: “We have had a chat and he knows where we are coming from. He is at an age now where he wants to play football and wants to enjoy his work.

“I have said to him, ‘when you come in that door, we demand your full attention, the same as you get from us, the staff.

“‘You all get my full attention and you don’t know what is going on in my life. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of your life. I will try to help you if I can but when you leave the building you pick your bags up and go and take care of whatever is going on’.

“It is what we demand, what we give, and every single person who works here does the same.

“So, we don’t need to know what is going on in every player’s life. It’s what you do on the pitch, what you do when you are in the building, that will curry favour.

“Sometimes you need a chance, you need someone to give you an opportunity. He knows where we are coming from and how we work and we have a very honest, good bunch of boys who will tell you as well if you step out of line.

“They don’t let anyone get away with anything.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

“But he knows what he wants, he knows he wants to play football and enjoy his work, and he will have to put in the work here every single day.

“He doesn’t get let off with it because he is Anthony Stokes and he has played here and there, and done this and that.

“When you are a Livingston player, you adhere to the rules and regulations that are set out and that we demand.”

And the Almondvale boss is confident the inside knowledge provided by skipper Marvin Bartley – a colleague of Stokes at Hibs – and defender Efe Ambrose – who played along side him at both Celtic and Hibs – could prove crucial.

He added: “It has helped having them here because you speak to them before you even make the signing. You want to find out what he is really like and they have seen him day-to-day in the past.

“No disrespect, you guys [the media] get the juicy bits but we deal with the day-to-day and how he is as a person. That is what we spoke about.

“When you meet Anthony, he comes across as someone who wants to be given the chance to do what he is very good at. Hopefully we will get the best out of him.”

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