Why Kilmarnock captain Chris Stokes has staked a claim for more training drills after 'comical' win over Hamilton

Kilmarnock captain Chris Stokes is looking forward to a fresh start in 2022 after injury misery – and could be included in additional training drills under the club’s new manager after his strike in the ‘comical’ win over Hamilton.

Kilmarnock's Chris Stokes (centre) celebrates making it 2-1 with Callum Hendry. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)
Kilmarnock's Chris Stokes (centre) celebrates making it 2-1 with Callum Hendry. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

Back from the hamstring injury that has kept him on the sidelines for much of the season, Stokes’ influence off the pitch during those months is beginning to be replicated on it with Killie seeking a replacement for Tommy Wright and currently being steered back into the top four, for the interim, by head of football James Fowler.

The captain is keen to kick on further – even if the three points had an element of farce which Stokes branded ‘comical’ with five goals, three penalties, two saves and one red card.

"It's great to be back out there after injury. It's been frustrating that since I've signed, it's not gone well for me from my personal point of view. As captain you want to be leading on the pitch, not just in training and the dressing room. Now I'm back I want to keep this going.”

Kilmarnock's Chris Stokes (centre) makes it 2-1 during a Cinch Championship match between Hamilton and Kilmarnock at the Fountain of Youth Stadium, on December 26, 2021, in Hamilton, Scotland (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

In training the captain may well have more say in the drills – and take part in some he has been otherwise excluded from. A cultured turn and curling shot into the top corner sent Kilmarnock ahead in a Boxing Day epic with Hamilton that had everything, but Stokes’ strike was the pick of the bunch.

"I just took my touch and there wasn't much on, sometimes you try your luck and if flew in the top corner.

"I'm never in the shooting drills because I'm a centre-half, but I've played high up the pitch as a wing back previously. It could fly into the top of the stand or the top corner and luckily for me it went in."

Kilmarnock will make a decision on an appeal for Zach Hemming’s late red card when the goalkeeper’s excellent afternoon after his double penalty save took a turn for the worse and he was sent off for bringing Andy Ryan down with 12 minutes to go, but the captain called for leniency – in all the decisions made by John Beaton and his officiating team.

Hamilton were aggrieved by the early handball call that gave Callum Hendry the chance to equalise from the spot. Hamilton boss Stuart Taylor believed Matt Shiels was harshly treated when the ball struck his arm close to his body and Stokes added: "I don't know what was going with some of the handballs, even with ours I didn't really see it.

"Being a defender, I don't know how he can give that. You don’t want penalties for token handballs, you want the game to flow and lead to goals like mine and not just penalties and stupid decisions and that's what it felt like.

"It wasn't free flowing which was disappointing on that front.

"You don't want to see the game go like that – you want it free flowing and enjoyable and not getting keepers sent off and giving penalties left, right and centre – it just became comical in the end.”

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