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Stokes faces punishment after Belfast photograph

ANTHONY STOKES will be reprimanded by Celtic after a photograph appeared of the striker in a Belfast pub alongside a man who faces trial for pro-IRA chanting.

Anthony Stokes: Celtic striker was pictured with man charged after IRA chanting in Glasgow pub
Anthony Stokes: Celtic striker was pictured with man charged after IRA chanting in Glasgow pub

The photo, said to have been taken last month, shows Stokes with musician Alan Quinn who was charged last year with a breach of the peace for reportedly singing about the IRA in a Glasgow pub.

On Thursday Stokes retweeted a Twitter comment to him from a sympathiser that read: "Quite suprised (sic) at some very intelligent people biting on that Daily Record story. In context, there was no wrong-doing AT ALL by @stoksey10".

Johan Mjallby, the Celtic assistant manager, however, labelled the incident "disappointing" and revealed manager Neil Lennon and other club officials would speak to Stokes to ensure there would be no repeat. "It's disappointing when things like this happen," said Mjallby. "We can't monitor players 24/7 but it's disappointing as they are ambassadors for the club outside the pitch.

"The manager and the club will speak to him and try to put things right. We have to make sure it doesn't happen again. 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.

"He's got so many things going for him as a footballer, especially this year when he's been our main man probably 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."

In 2012 Stokes was warned he had damaged the club's reputation when he attended a memorial service for Alan Ryan, the murdered commander of the Real IRA. Lennon spoke with Stokes at the time and revealed the matter had been dealt with internally.

"I am not going to moralise to him but you cannot damage the reputation of the club," Lennon said at the time. "He is aware of that now."

Stokes will also appear in a Dublin court later this month after being charged with assaulting an Elvis impersonator in his hometown last summer.

Mjallby, meanwhile, also revealed he would consider returning one day as Celtic manager. The Swede will leave the club in the summer after four years as Lennon's assistant.

"If I'm a manager and doing well, then definitely [I would be interested in the manager's position]," he added. "You don't say no to a job like that. I feel I need a new challenge and try something new because I've been here 10 years of my life; six as a player and four in management.

"People on the outside maybe think it's surprising you leave such a massive club, a successful club but sometimes you have to develop yourself as well.

"I see myself as quite brave to make this decision in a way, to leave a massive club, a club that are always going to win titles and most of the time hopefully play in Europe as well, which has been really great for my own development. Will you see me back some day? Maybe, you never know."

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