The Republic of Ireland international has been suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into a breach of Covid-19 protocols and sits out their trip to Blackburn today (kick off 3 pm) as a consequence.
James – who has donated thousands of pounds of his own money to NHS charities during the Coronavirus pandemic – posted a video of himself on Instagram boxing with a trainer — but visits to gyms are banned under the current virus rules.
It has the potential to be costly for the Derry man, and not just because of the likelihood of a hefty fine.
Manager Michael O’Neill has brought in wingers Jack Clarke and Rabbi Matondo in the January window and he could be pushed down the pecking order.
Scholes chose his words carefully in an interview with BBC Radio Stoke, stressing that the probe is ongoing.
But he said Stoke were taking the matter seriously.
“Obviously disappointed, very disappointed, but I’m going to duck that question to a degree because that’s going to be subject to disciplinary,” said Scholes.
“When we found out that James had visited a private gym — I’ve got to be using the word allegedly in all of these things — it’s clearly a breach of protocol.
“We took the decision to immediately suspend him pending the investigation. We hope we get that done quickly because we’ve had to withdraw James from availability for tomorrow’s game.
“We hope to deal with that matter very quickly.
“I’ll make a more general comment because I have to be very careful… we all know we live in very difficult times, we’ve all got a duty to act responsibly. Football is continuing at the moment at a time when across the country every other leisure activity has been curtailed.
“We have to be mindful of that. We appreciate it and we don’t take it for granted.
“People have got a reasonable right to expect all of us to adopt the highest standards of behaviour.
“That’s a general statement, I’m not making that specifically with response to James.
“He is suspended pending the investigation.
“As to what happens thereafter, it depends on the outcome.”Tags: