Livingston boss Gary Holt blown away by former Celtic hero Anthony Stokes' talent

By David Walton

September 17, 2020

Former Celtic striker Anthony Stokes has been given a morale-boosting appraisal by Livingston manager Gary Holt.

Stokes left the Tony Macaroni Arena club after just under four weeks of being signed, and without even playing a competitive game. The Republic of Ireland international wasn’t comfortable training on Livi’s artificial surface every day.

The move to West Lothian initially looked like being a good one on paper. A chance to play for a Premiership club and build up his confidence and reputation once more was exactly what Stokes would’ve been after.

Anthony Stokes during his Celtic days (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

But Holt has confirmed that the playet didn’t leave Livingston because of any issues with ability. In fact, the Lions boss and his staff were blown away by Stokes’ ability in training.

As quoted by the Scotsman, Holt said: “I’m disappointed because, the sessions we had with Anthony, you could see the quality. Some of the things he could do, no-one at our club can do. Some of the things he did in training, you actually stood and clapped.

“The talent is there and I hope he gets the opportunity to showcase it. We were hoping we could get over the problems we had, dealing with the pitch and the conditioning. And I give Anthony a big pat on the back, because he broached the subject with us first, that it wasn’t right with him, it wasn’t comfortable.

“He could have sat here for months taking money while we banged our heads trying to get him up to speed but he was willing to terminate the contract.”

A massive blow to Stokes’ critics

Stokes is such an easy target in this saga. Many will look at his short stint with Livi and roll their eyes thinking that the ex-Celtic man’s attitude has once again cost him.

However, Holt’s comments pretty much confirm that’s not the case. It’s clear he was in looking to impress every day in training, and managed to do just that. Yet it must be the case that the artificial surface was taking its toll on the striker.

What’s pleasing to hear is that Stokes still has the ability. Holt has openly admited that the forward was able to do things that nobody else at the club could pull off. That’s a massive compliment for a player who’s looking to rebuild a reputation that has fallen since his move to Iran.

Former Celtic star Anthony Stokes / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

More importantly, however, it shows this wasn’t a case of Stokes’ attitude getting in the way. These comments from Holt will ensure that plenty of other clubs remain interested in his services, perhaps even a rival Premiership outfit.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where Stokes ends up next, but Holt is spot on. How easy it would’ve been for him to sit and pick up a paycheque and effectively take Livi to the cleaners. It shows his class that it didn’t even cross his mind to do that.

Hopefully he finds a move that works out for him soon. He’s far too talented to be sitting on the sidelines in the twilight of his career.

In other news, Shane Duffy has finally reacted to Gary Breen’s disrespectful Celtic comments.