Ex-Sunderland striker departs club over plastic pitch as League One rivals call on ex-England manager

Former Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes has departed Livingston just weeks after joining the Scottish side – due to the club’s artificial pitch.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 4:45 pm

Stokes penned a one-year contract with the SPFL side in August but Livi today announced that Stokes’ deal had been terminated by mutual agreement.

The dramatic u-turn comes after Stokes struggled to adapt to training on the club’s artificial pitch.

Head of Football Operations David Martindale said: “Stokesy has been in training for approximately 4 weeks now and it’s fair to say that we both knew that there was going to be a lot of work to be done to get Anthony into top shape to play Premiership football.

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Former Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes

“In all honesty, it’s not quite worked out in terms of the on-field ball work and intense training schedule we had put in place. He is struggling to adapt to training 2-3 hours per day on the Astro Turf surface – we all know it doesn’t and won’t suit everyone.

“Of course, Anthony knew the surface we had in place but each player adapts to that differently and you can’t know how your body will feel adapting to it until you’ve been out there and played or trained on it frequently. We know it isn’t for everyone and sadly, that’s been the case for Anthony.

“Whilst trying to get the player in shape, it’s been extremely frustrating for all of us, staff and player alike, that we can’t seem to get the intense training needed into the player.

“To be fair to Anthony, he has noticed this himself and he approached us with the option to terminate. This allows both the player and the club to explore other opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Portsmouth have drafted in former England caretaker manager Peter Taylor to help with coaching their first-team.

As reported by our sister paper, The News, the 67-year-old was at Pompey’s training base today to help long-time friend Kenny Jackett with preparing his side for the League One campaign.

He will contribute to the Black Cats’ rivals on an irregular basis, with no contract currently in place.

Taylor has been out of work since leaving Dagenham & Redbridge last year.

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