Hughes 'bitterly disappointed' with behaviour of errant Stokes

JOHN Hughes has accused Anthony Stokes of betraying his trust after the Irish striker was reportedly involved in a nightclub incident just hours after he played in Hibernian's league defeat at Hamilton nine days ago.

When the Hibs manager signed Stokes from Sunderland last month he insisted it was not a gamble despite the player's previous misdemeanours, putting them down to immaturity. Now, however, Hughes feels the faith he put in the 21-year-old has not been repaid.

The incident in question was investigated by Hughes before he decided to speak out yesterday. He would not reveal what sanctions, if any, the club had taken against Stokes, saying only that the matter had been dealt with internally.

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"It's bitterly disappointing, really it is, especially when it's me who's put my name to him," Hughes said. "That's the galling thing – you feel let down. You talk them up, what these guys can do, and then you wake up on the Saturday morning and you've got a big custard pie stuck in your face.

"We've now drawn a line under it and we have to move on. We don't condone that whatsoever. We take our own course of action, what we feel is appropriate, and that's it finished."

Stokes, who was a revelation in his first spell in Scottish football when on loan from Falkirk to Arsenal, took a substantial wage cut in order to move to Easter Road from Sunderland. He had a year of his contract to run with the English club, but decided to move in search of regular football.

Asked when he signed for Hibs about his time at Sunderland, which included a ban from a nightclub, he expressed the hope he had put such behaviour behind him. "I was a bit immature in some of the things I did," Stokes said. "I did some very stupid things, but I was young and you just have to learn from it. Hopefully now I'll just get my head down and work hard on my football."

Hughes is sure to harbour exactly the same hopes. Although he concluded that Stokes was not necessarily the only guilty party in the nightclub incident, he regards the player's presence as a disciplinary offence in itself. "I don't think there's any smoke without fire," he added. "The bottom line is he shouldn't have been there in the first place."

Stokes and his team-mates performed poorly in the 2-0 defeat at New Douglas Park, but they returned to winning ways at the weekend with Stokes scoring twice in a 3-0 league win over St Johnstone.

"I want him to be on the back pages – like he was on Sunday – for scoring goals," Hughes went on. We're just looking forward to getting him playing football and scoring goals. That's what he's got in his locker, so hopefully that'll be the case from now until the end of the season."

Hibs are at home to the Perth team again this evening in the Co-operative Insurance Cup, and Hughes is unlikely to make many changes from the weekend. If that is the case, club captain Chris Hogg will have to wait a bit longer for his return to the first team, having been dropped for Saturday's Premier League match.

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"Hoggy's everything that you want at your club – the way he goes about his business, conducts himself, the way he trains; a really good professional," Hughes said of the centre-back.

"He'll come back from that and he'll respond in the right manner. He trained very well this morning so it'll not be too long before Hoggy's back in the starting 11."