Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stokes Is Fired Up to Be Hit with Cats

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stokes Is Fired Up to Be Hit with Cats

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

SUNDERLAND'S forgotten man Anthony Stokes insists he remains determined to break out of his career rut and prove himself capable of a place in Ricky Sbragia's Black Cats revolution.

The Irish striker has slipped off the radar this season and the departure of Roy Keane, who signed him and remained convinced he would eventually fulfil his undoubted potential, has left his Sunderland career in doubt.

A loan spell in the Championship with Sheffield United was supposed to help reinvigorate his career, but injury and a loss of form led to Stokes returning to Wearside a week early.

That disappointed Sbragia, who repeated the call for more focus from the 20-year-old.

That has been a familiar theme for Stokes since joining Sunderland, and the former Arsenal striker admits that he has let his career slip in recent months.

But now back at the Stadium of Light and with plenty to prove, he is determined to give himself a chance of returning to the first-team picture before the end of the season.

"It's been very frustrating. Since I came to Sunderland I've been in and out - down to my own fault on a few things, I know - but I do want to play first team games,"

Stokes said.

"I know I've got to keep my head down and get on with it. I need to get myself back up to where I was a couple of years ago.

"I've let it slip a bit, my fitness has dropped and it becomes more difficult to get back in the team the longer it goes without a game so I've got to break out of that cycle now.

"I need to work hard in training and prove to the manager that I can offer him something different. It's up to me now."

It will not be easy - Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse have been Sunderland's main weapon in the fight against the drop this season.

And when either is injured - Jones remains a doubt for tomorrow's trip to Anfield - David Healy is the obvious next option for Sbragia. …

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