Tuesday 25 October 2016

Stokes aiming to stake Euro claim with Hibs

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes Photo: PA
Celtic striker Anthony Stokes Photo: PA

Anthony Stokes believes he can fire himself back into the reckoning for Euro 2016 after returning to Hibernian on loan Six months on the sidelines at Celtic left the Irishman fearing his chances of joining Martin O’Neill’s squad for this summer’s European Championship were over.

But now, after agreeing a six-month move to Easter Road, the striker reckons he still has time to convince the Republic boss to take him to France - even if he is playing outside Scotland’s top flight.

The 27-year-old previously spent a season in Edinburgh side after joining the Leith outfit in 2009, when his tally of 24 goals in 48 matches earned him a £1.2million move to Parkhead.

Now he is hoping to rediscover that form after his frustrating start to the campaign.

Stokes said: “Of course I can win my Ireland place back. It’s down to me to put in the performances that will take me there and work on my fitness to get it back up to 100 per cent.

“I need to kick on and do my talking on the pitch. I don’t see any reason why I can’t win my place back.

“I haven’t spoken to Martin in the last while and there’s been no assurances. I just want to go out, perform and get my fitness levels up. I haven’t played consistently for five or six months now so I just want to get back into things.”

Hibs boss Alan Stubbs fought off interest from Inverness, Dundee United and from clubs down south to land the former Arsenal, Falkirk and Sunderland frontman.

But, with the lure of pipping old adversaries Rangers to the Championship title on offer, Stokes admits he had just one destination in mind when Hoops manager Ronny Deila opened the door.

“I just thought it was the right move for me,” he said. “I was familiar with the surroundings here, I know a lot of the players and it’s a great club.

“I was here for a season a few years back but really enjoyed my time here.

“I’m looking forward to my season and really pushing on.

“There were other offers but I normally get a gut feeling or a hunch on these things and I just thought it was a good opportunity. Hibs have had a good season so far and hopefully we win something.

“I’m here to be competitive and win titles.”

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