But when the time does come to move on to something bigger, he says he is far better placed to make a go of things. The Republic of Ireland striker is a man in form at the moment, earning the Clydesdale Bank Young Player of the Month award for his scoring exploits throughout December. Until that stage of the season he had three league goals to his name, but in four weeks he had tripled that tally and with the transfer window open, the striker is now reportedly on a list of possible Celtic targets.
Celtic previously tried to sign him in 2006-7, following his successful loan spell at Falkirk, but when he left Arsenal, he opted instead to join Sunderland. His spell on Wearside may not have been the success he had hoped for but he says he does not regret his choice:
"I would still go to Sunderland but I would do things differently. A lot of the problems down there were down to myself and I didn't apply myself in the right way."
He made just 16 starts under his boyhood hero Roy Keane but, with hindsight, admits Keane was given cause to sideline him. "I didn't do one big thing to annoy Keane, it was a gradual thing, little things like being late, he was very particular on that. And I did go out during the week at times as well which I'm sure didn't please him."
But current boss John Hughes is better placed to get the best out of him, which is why both manager and player are now having to field questions about Stokes's future at the club. It's something neither is keen on. Hughes refused to comment, while Stokes was more stoical. Given the chance at a bigger club, he says he is better placed to deal with the lofty expectations.
But that doesn't mean he is in a hurry to scoot along the M8. "Rumours get thrown around," he says with a shrug. "I'm an Irish lad doing all right in Scotland so I'm getting the Celtic shout-outs but I haven't heard anything from my agent."