Football: Givens Stokes the Fire

Article excerpt

ANTHONY Stokes may have burned his bridges with Irish Under-21 boss Don Givens - but the Sunderland striker pleaded his innocence yesterday.

Stokes, 19, failed to show up for Givens's squad for last night's friendly against Germany - insisting he was unavailable to travel because of an injury.

Yet Stokes still managed to anger Givens, who reckoned it was the Dubliner's responsibility to inform him he would be unable to travel.

But yesterday a source close to Stokes did his best to play down the incident - claiming that the player was a victim of a misunderstanding.

The source said: "Anthony was injured. End of story. He went into Saturday's game against Wigan carrying a groin problem, which worsened during the first half - and as a result he then asked to come off at half-time.

"Sunderland gave him the day off on Monday when he travelled over to Dublin to see his family.

He was back in Sunderland yesterday undergoing treatment.

"That Don Givens didn't know about this was a misunderstanding - nothing else. …