Stokes picks up ban... from a bar

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The Independent Online

The Glass Spider, the bar in Sunderland that Roy Keane identified as the obvious career "pitfall" facing Saturday's match-winner against Derby County, Anthony Stokes, yesterday banned the 19-year-old from its premises for the rest of the season. The ban is as tongue-in-cheek as Keane's remark, but also has a serious undertone.

Wylam Leisure, which owns the Glass Spider, announced the ban on Stokes, saying: "Because we have a private VIP area, it is always very popular and the players know that this is the liveliest club in Sunderland.

"But as great Sunderland supporters we obviously want to see them do well and if Roy Keane thinks the Glass Spider is a distraction, then we have decided to bar Anthony until the football season ends so he can concentrate on his game."

Stokes will not be thrilled at the news if his teammates continue to go there and Keane will have to use his spies to ascertain where Stokes will go from now on to get his teenage kicks.

But once the season is over, Stokes will be given a warm welcome back. "At the end of the season if he comes back we'll treat him to a huge bottle of champagne and a night in the VIP area at our expense," said a spokesman for the Glass Spider.

On a rather more serious note, Sunderland are awaiting news on Carlos Edwards's injury from Saturday's game against Derby. The fear is that Edwards has sustained a fracture of the tibia.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa's England under-21 international and current leading scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor believes he is reaping the benefits from playing alongside the experienced John Carew. Agbonlahor, who has six goals this season, said: "On his day, no-one can cope with John with his physical presence and he did really well against Arsenal. He's a really good foil for me and I was unlucky at the weekend not to get on to any of his flicks. He's definitely helped my game. John is good to play alongside and he's always talking to me which is good. He's got a lot of experience which I can learn from."

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