Stokes faces Lennon quiz over ‘rebel’ pub claims

CELTIC striker Anthony Stokes will be asked by the club to explain his alleged appearance at a Republican bar in Belfast.

Anthony Stokes has been asked to explain his actions on a recent trip to Belfast. Picture: TSPL

A report this week claimed Irish international Stokes attended a “Rebel Sunday” music event at the Rock Bar on the Falls Road last month, showing a photograph of the player in front of a microphone.

In 2012, Stokes was fined and criticised by Celtic manager Neil Lennon when he was pictured in attendance at a memorial function at a Dublin pub for murdered Real IRA leader Alan Ryan.

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Outgoing Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby, who has revealed his ambition to return to the club as manager in the future, confirmed Stokes will be quizzed by the club over the fresh allegation.

“The manager and the club will speak to Anthony and try to put things right,” said Mjallby.

“It’s disappointing when things like this happen. We can’t monitor players 24/7 but it’s disappointing as they are ambassadors for the club outside the pitch.

“We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s disappointing as the boy has been doing well this season.

“In management, it’s always disappointing when you have to deal with things that haven’t happened on the pitch. If they play poorly, then you can have a proper go at them. But, with something like this, it’s quite sensitive. But I know the club and the manager will sort it out. Anthony has got so many things going for him as a footballer, especially this year when he’s been our main man in the striker position. He’s a very skilful player.

“Unfortunately, now and then outside the pitch, things happen with Anthony. Some of them you can probably live with but there comes a day when he has to learn as well. You don’t get too many chances as a footballer. First and foremost you have to focus on your job.”

Mjallby will bid farewell to Celtic this summer but the Swede insists there is no reason why boss Neil Lennon should do the same.

The Celtic No 2 has decided to call time on his four-year stint as Lennon’s right-hand man and instead seek a fresh challenge away from Parkhead. But he does not think the Northern Irishman is ready to head for England just yet. Lennon has been linked with the manager’s position at Norwich and Mjallby is confident his friend can make a success of himself south of the border one day – but only after he finishes his job with the three-in-a-row champions.

Mjallby said: “Neil is under contract and I don’t see any reason why he would leave. He hasn’t told me anything about that so, if you ask me, I think he will still be here. He has improved tactically since we first got together and he has calmed down a bit too, which will stand him in good stead. I think he will go on to have a very successful career as a manager.”

But the former Sweden international insisted Lennon will not be able to ignore his ambitions to work in the Barclays Premier League forever. “He’s hungry to improve and I can see him moving to England at some stage – definitely at some stage,” he warned. “Why not? He knows the British game and has played down south, so obviously I can see him moving there one day.”