Monday, March 9, 2009

Stokes looks to put troubled past behind him

Crystal Palace’s latest signing Anthony Stokes has vowed to put his past reputation behind him and move on with his career.

The Ireland youngster, who is on loan from Sunderland, has had a well documented past where his behaviour off the field has grabbed the headlines instead of his displays on it.

However, Stokes has put his misdemeanours down to immaturity when he first moved north from Arsenal.

He said: “I was only 18 when I went there and now I’m coming up to my 21st birthday, so I just think I have matured with age.

“Some of the decisions I made were stupid, but I have learnt from them and hopefully I can get my head together now.

“I think it is all a learning curve. At 18 I was playing for Ireland and involved in the squad and playing in the Premiership.

“This was all a good experience, so I don’t think it was wasted time and now hopefully I can learn from that and move on with my career.”

The striker has already proved his determination to impress at Selhurst by scoring a wonderful equaliser on his full debut to help the Eagles on their way to a 2-1 victory over play-off hopefuls Preston on Saturday.

He added: “I am delighted with the goal, but more importantly that we got the result.

“I was glad because they either end up in row Z or go into the back of the net and I’m just delighted today it went in. I came here to play games, score a few goals and help Crystal Palace as much as I can.”

One man who will be keeping a close eye on Stokes’ behaviour is Eagles boss Neil Warnock.

The manager is known for his no nonsense approach and although Stokes hasn’t had any run-ins with him so far, he has seen enough to know about his temperament.

He said: “I haven’t really seen him much. I have only spoken to him two or three times and had a few training sessions and games, but he seems like a livewire, so it should be interesting.”
Although only initially joining on loan, Stokes has not ruled out a permanent move in the future.

Asked about his future and the possibility of staying past his loan, he said: “I don’t really know to be honest with you.

“This came up earlier in the week and I just wanted the opportunity to play a few games.

“Reserve football is good, but I wanted to play at a higher level. I’m just glad to have the opportunity and hopefully I can carry on from here.

Despite being unclear about his own future, Stokes is hopeful Crystal Palace’s destination come the end of the season will be in the play-off places.

He added: “There is always a few teams that put a good run together.

“We put in a good performance and a good shift, which I think paid off for us today. “If we keep playing the way we are, and create chances like we did today, then there is no reason why we can’t try and push on.

“I want to keep playing week in week out, scoring goals and do what I can for Crystal Palace while I’m here.”

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