By Rob Atkinson
The rumours are circulating once more regarding likely additions for the Leeds United front line, already supplemented by the signing of Oldham's Matt Smith. The names of Noel Hunt (Reading) and Kevin Doyle (Wolves) have been freely bandied about, the former being spoken of as virtually a done deal, whilst apparently Wolves are still hoping to hang on to Doyle despite their demotion to League One.
It is the link with Doyle that has sprouted this frankly unwelcome story concerning Celtic's Anthony Stokes. The former Arsenal trainee has had a thin time of it south of the border, and truth be told he hasn't been that much more successful in the less demanding environment of the Scottish Premier League. Seven goals in 23 appearances last term is not exactly prolific in a league where much is expected of a striker lucky enough to play for the only team of any real quality. A spell with Sunderland yielded a paltry 3 goals in 36 outings, and loan outings with Crystal Palace and Sheffield United added just one solitary strike to that meagre total.
Stokes has seemed more likely to be keeping the press busy on the front page rather than the back. He has been disciplined by Celtic for his attendance at the funeral of a Real IRA Chief and more recently there has been an allegation that he head-butted an Elvis impersonator in his native Dublin. Stokes has a year left on his contract with the Bhoys, and has so far failed to agree a new deal.
For a player whose signature once cost the buying club £2m, Stokes would appear to have done little on the field to justify that price tag, or anything like it. Off the field, he has attracted rather more publicity, but not in a good way. Whoever is eyeing up the targets for Leeds United would be well-advised to give this lad no more than a cursory glance before moving on with all possible speed. It's one story among many; Leeds will be linked with many players this summer, and only a small proportion will make it to Thorp Arch for the guided tour prior to signing. I sincerely hope that Anthony Stokes Esquire is not one of those few.