Former Hibs boss backs rough diamond Anthony Stokes to create headlines for right reasons



Former Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs has revealed that he also had to haul striker Anthony Stokes over the coals for misbehaving off the pitch.

But Stubbs admits handing the former Celtic and Sunderland player a second chance paid off handsomely after Stokes scored twice in the historic May 2016 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers.

Dubliner Stokes has again found himself attracting the wrong kind of attention after the 29-year-old and team-mates Martin Boyle and Danny Swanson were all disciplined for breaking a curfew during last week’s training camp in Portugal.

That incident came just two months after current Hibs head coach Neil Lennon banished the player from their East Mains base over a training ground incident.

Stubbs has recalled how the marksman disobeyed orders on a foreign trip during their six months working together but has backed Stokes to let his football do the talking in Sunday’s Scottish Cup trip to city rivals Hearts.

Stubbs said: “I had something similar when we were away at one point. It was virtually me going into the place and dragging him out. We’ve all been there. 

“But he produces on the park because he’s got that much ability and quality. 

“He’s able to put differences behind him, and issues in his private life and move on. 

“He has an ability to put it to one side and on match day it seemed to be his release. It takes a strong character to do that.

“Does it come as part of the package? It does, yes. I knew what I was getting with Anthony Stokes. 

“Lenny knew what he was getting because he managed him before at Celtic.

“We all as managers hope that one day we can change people. We may smooth a few rough edges off but in terms of turning them into a diamond, that’s very rarely going to happen.

“It’s Stokesy, it’s unfortunate. I’m sure Lenny won’t be happy with it but as far as I am aware it’s been dealt with and we move on.”

Stubbs, meanwhile, insists Steven Naismith’s arrival at Tynecastle would represent a huge coup for Hearts.

The Scotland internationalist is expected to complete a loan move to the Gorgie outfit from Norwich City in time to make his debut in Sunday’s clash with Hibs.

Former Everton coach Stubbs worked alongside the ex-Rangers and Kilmarnock player at Goodison Park.

Stubbs said: “He could be a very good signing for them. I’m a bit surprised, not because it’s Hearts but that I thought there would be clubs in the Championship who may have been on the table. 

“There may be other things around it, maybe Steven wanted to get back to Scotland. That could be a big factor in it but they have got themselves a very good player if that goes through. 

“I played with him – I’m not that old yet – at the end. 

“He has great attributes, great lad, very down to earth, humble; his work-rate for the team is very, very good. 

“He obviously knows where the goal is, he doesn’t pick up a lot of injuries. 

“Wherever he goes he will take to it no bother at all. 

“He is a clever player, has a very good understanding of his role. 

“He never stops working, sometimes he works too hard; runs around too much to be honest, which seems a bit strange to say.

“But that’s in his make-up so he would be a very good signing for them.”

*Alan Stubbs was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.