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Excited by the challenge - Stokes

20 June 2016

After six years north of the border, new signing Anthony Stokes admits he was ready for a fresh challenge and joins Rovers with a point to prove.

The Republic of Ireland international, who has penned a three-year deal with the club, started his career at Arsenal, before signing for Sunderland in January 2007.

Despite helping the Black Cats secure promotion to the Premier League that season, the young forward made just 15 league starts during his time on Wearside, before joining Hibs in August 2009.

Stokes really found his feet – and goalscoring touch – in Scotland, netting 24 goals in 48 games for the Edinburgh club, before signing for Glasgow Celtic in August 2010, where he plundered 77 goals in 192 games.

The 27-year-old admits he will forever have fond memories of his time up north, but is now looking forward to his latest chapter in English football.

“I’ve been up there a long time and Celtic is obviously a club that will always remain close to my heart, because I was a Celtic fan growing up and I feel privileged that I got the honour to go up there and play for them for so long,” said Stokes.

“The first four or five years were outstanding and I really enjoyed my time up there and I will miss it, but it’s a place I’ll always go back to, to support the team, and I’m just very thankful for the support I got over the years from the club, the backroom staff and everyone up there.

“I’d been there for six years and maybe it was time for a change. I want to come down here and prove myself. It’s another challenge for me and it’s one that I’m really looking forward to.

“It’s something different. At Celtic, maybe I was in a bit of a comfort zone. I think I did well over my course of time there, I played probably 90% of the games up until the last season or so, but I’m just looking forward to coming down here.
 
“I’m excited. It’s a different challenge for me, it’s a new club and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Looking back on his time at Sunderland, Stokes admits he was just a young boy who was cutting his teeth in the game when he moved to the Stadium of Light and he arrives at Rovers a completely different player.
 
“I was lucky enough to win the Championship at Sunderland and play a few games in the Premier League and – even though it was only one goal – to score in the Premier League, so I’ve got good memories as well,” he added. 

“I was only a kid then, I was only 18-19 at the time, so I’m coming here a far better and more experienced player, after playing in the Champions League with Celtic and European games, so I feel like I’ve got a lot more to bring to the table now.

“I just need to get myself fit and ready to play, and obviously try to produce goals. 

“At the end of the day, I’m a striker and that’s what I’ll be judged on, but I’m hoping that there’s more to my game than that.”

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