NEW manager Alan Stubbs has not ruled out a move by Rotherham United for Anthony Stokes after the striker was told he is free to leave Celtic.
The 27-year-old spent the final months of last season on loan with Stubbs at Hibernian and helped the Edinburgh club end a 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup.
Celtic had initially indicated a desire to take up a year’s option on Stokes in the hope of commanding a possible £500,000 fee this summer.
Now, though, the Irishman has been told he can leave Parkhead at the end of this month and Stubbs, newly installed at the New York Stadium, admits to being strongly interested in a possible deal.
However, the Millers chief also realises that any club wanting to sign a striker who netted nine goals in 19 Championship outings for Hibernian last term will face stiff competition.
“I wouldn’t rule out an interest in Anthony Stokes,” said Stubbs. “But we wouldn’t be on our own. There will be a number of clubs interested in him, particularly if it is a free transfer.
“I know him from his time at Hibs and at Celtic. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt that I have a good relationship with him already. I like to have a good relationship with all my players.
“I talk to them before and after training. I have had a lot of players from Hibs ring or text me to wish me well since I moved to Rotherham.”
Stokes netted twice in last month’s Scottish Cup final triumph over Rangers at Hampden Park and was named man of the match. He had joined Hibs on loan in January after five years at Celtic. Earlier in his career, Stokes cost Sunderland £2m when moving from Arsenal. He had a short spell on loan at Sheffield United in 2008.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday have offered new deals to goalkeeper Lewis Price, midfielder Jose Semedo and forward Caolan Lavery. The trio’s existing contracts are due to run out at the end of this month.
Talks are also expected to take place with Daniel Pudil over making the Czech Republic international’s move from Watford permanent. The left-back made 42 appearances on loan last season as the Owls narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League.
Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell is close to agreeing a new deal at Leeds United, while Italian defender Giuseppe Bellusci, under contract for another two years, is wanted by Serie A club Empoli.