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Thursday 14 December 2017

Hibs' Hughes worried he will do damage to Stokes' killer instinct IRELAND striker Anthony Stokes is in the form of his life with 19 SPL goals for Hibernians so far this season, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

But manager John Hughes admits that it's not easy to coach the 21-year-old because he's afraid of losing the player's natural instincts.

Stokes has scored 19 goals in all competitions for Hibs and only Rangers man Kris Boyd has scored more, but boss Hughes admits that Stokes is a frustrating player to manage.

"The thing about Stokesy is I'm still a little bit frustrated with him because I want to turn him into a better all-round player," said Hughes.

"But right at this moment in time you're caught between a rock and a hard place because you've seen over the years that if you ask goalscorers to do different bits and pieces then they forget how to score goals. So as long as he keeps hitting the target we're delighted with that and it's a fantastic return from him this season.

"He's still a young boy, he's still got it all to learn. I think his hold-up play and his link-up play has to be better, and I think he could still work a lot harder.

"But when you speak to him he talks about wanting to play on shoulders and only wanting to go one way, he wants to try and score a goal. Great, but I just want a wee bit more. But I don't want to take that goal threat away."

Stokes has been revitalised since joining Hibs after a frustrating time at Sunderland, and the player is now aiming to get his Ireland career moving again. Stokes made his senior debut in the 2-1 win over San Marino in 2007, and though he has yet to play under Giovanni Trapattoni he was recalled to the squad for the friendly against Brazil earlier this month.

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