Neil Lennon has hinted that Anthony Stokes may yet have a future at Hibs after the wayward striker returned to training ahead of tonight’s Premiership match against Dundee.
Stokes, along with Danny Swanson and Martin Boyle, was carpeted after breaking a curfew during the Easter Road club’s winter break in the Algarve.
While Boyle started Sunday’s Scottish Cup derby with Hearts and Swanson was on the bench, there was no place for Stokes in Lennon’s squad at Tynecastle, with both Charlton and an un-named Polish club said to be interested in signing him.
Afterwards Lennon, while insisting Stokes’ absence hadn’t made any difference to the 1-0 defeat, said: “It’s a club issue and it will be resolved one way or another in the next week or so.” However, Lennon revealed the 29-year-old had reported for training at East Mains yesterday and that “he might be in contention to get into the squad”.
Lennon made it clear, though, that regardless of what might happen, Stokes needs to “have a good look at himself”. He said: “I think everyone will be looking for a bit of payback – if he plays. He owes everybody something.
“Eventually whether I pick him or not, he has to have a good look at himself. I have been saying this for a long time, the penny either drops or it doesn’t and eventually the game moves on and I have other players to consider as well. There has been no more interest, but that might change over the next ten days.”
Lennon also revealed that while St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has expressed an interest in taking Swanson back to McDiarmid Park on loan, nothing further has happened.
Whatever happens in regard to Stokes and Swanson, Lennon admitted he is intent on adding another couple of players to his squad before the transfer window closes – with the priority being on strengthening his front-line even following the arrival of striker Jamie Maclaren.
The Austrlalian internationalist was an unused substitute at the weekend having suffered from a groin problem and will be the squad for the trip Dens Park, although teenager Oli Shaw looks likely to lead the line again as Lennon was happy with his contribution against Hearts.
The head coach said: “It’s good for his character building. It’s a learning curve and how is he going to learn if he doesn’t get experience. He’s come off with a black eye – good. It’s a derby and there’s no quarter given.
“He played well in the corresponding game at Tynecastle a few weeks back, so he’ll learn from that. Sometimes his movement was good, sometimes you didn’t see his movement. It was a difficult day for him because the conditions were difficult.
“The experience will stand him in good stead, no question. He’s a good player and good lad with a good temperament.”
Midfielder Marvin Bartley is a doubt for tonight, forced off at Tynecastle after a tackle from John Souttar which brought the Hearts defender a booking. Lennon said: “I wasn’t happy with the challenge, it was a lunge. We’ve hoping Marv will be okay for the weekend.”