Is Stokes’ Ireland recall a blessing or a curse for Celtic?


The 25-year-old is in the Republic squad, but is it good news for Bhoys fans?

Anthony Stokes may not be a fan of either Bone Thugz ‘N Harmony or the Blazin’ Squad but his inclusion in the latest Republic of Ireland squad has left the Dublin-born Celtic star at a bit of a ‘Crossroads’ when it comes to his footballing career.

The 25-year-old has been named in the latest Green Army squad, along with Andy Reid and Darron Gibson, as the Republic begins life without previous manager Giovanni Trappatoni.

It was during the Italian’s reign that Stokes began an international exile, with the veteran coach seemingly angered by the player’s decision to pull out of a squad two years ago, citing exhaustion with club side Celtic as the reason.

Since then, and despite some stellar performances, the Arsenal academy product has failed to fight his way back into contention – until now.

But as Stokes prepares to restart his international career, he may well be asking himself, is now the right time to return to the fold?

For one thing, the forward will be desperate to feature as much as possible for Celtic both domestically and in Europe.

An ankle injury saw Stokes miss last season’s Champions League campaign and upcoming matches against Barcelona, Milan and Ajax offer valuable experience and a unique opportunity for a player in the final year of his contract.

While Celtic and the player have expressed interest in agreeing terms, pen has yet to be put to paper, making the remainder of the season a chance for Stokes to not only justify his demands but put himself in the shop window for other clubs.

As such, playing in dead-rubber World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan, with the potential for fatigue and incurring injury may not be that alluring.

Stokes will also be keen to keep club considerations a priority, knowing that regular goals in the SPFL will keep him in Neil Lennon’s thoughts when it comes to match day selection and the Hoops’ Champions League endeavours.

The forward has registered four goals in five league fixtures, but the most notable change has come in his off-the-field endeavours, as Neil Lennon revealed.

“He’s really tidied himself up now and become a good professional,” the Northern Irishman explained in an interview with the Daily Record.

“I don’t know why the penny finally dropped with him. Maybe it was the injury last season and missing out on the whole Champions League campaign.”

In weighing up a return to the International scene, Stokes should also be reminded of the path trodden by Kevin Doyle.

The former Reading and Wolves man was all-too-happy to join up with the Green Army but as the caps piled up, his form at club level began to nose dive with the forward hitting double figures for goals just once in the last seven seasons.

And once called up, there are no guarantees of playing time, with the likes of Shane Long, Jonathan Walters and Robbie Keane all likely to be preferred.

For Celtic fans, the priority is ensuring the team gets the best out of the frontman and whether international football will give him confidence, improve his image and provide more match time remains to be seen, but the decision rests with Stokes.

image: © law_keven

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