herald

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Stokes: I want to get back on pitch

ANTHONY STOKES has four months to save his Celtic career.

The striker made a 25-minute appearance as a substitute against Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday but hasn't played in a competitive match since August.

Since then Neil Lennon has signed Miku on loan and Lassad Nououi. With Tony Watt scoring against Barcelona and Mo Bangura back from a loan spell at AIK Stockholm, Celtic aren't short of striking options to supplement Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras.

But after overcoming his ankle injury Stokes is looking forward to proving himself all over again and earning a new deal to stay at Celtic.

"It's going to be difficult to get back into the team," he admitted. "There's always going to be competition for places at a club like Celtic.

"This season we've did very well in Europe although maybe domestically not as well as we'd have wanted.

"I've just got to work as hard as I possibly can and do what I can when I get an opportunity in games.

"There's a lot of competition for places, a few new strikers have come in but I'm looking forward to the challenge and hoping that it brings out the best in me.

"I've already put the hard work in, I've did the training with the fitness staff and the game in Marbella felt pretty easy to be honest.

"I had trained in Marbella for a week and got 25 minutes in the game. The ankle feels good, everything has gone well and it's grand to be back."

Within the next month Celtic will play in the SPL, Champions League, League Cup and Scottish Cup as they chase glory on four fronts.

Stokes has been a spectator so far this season and is delighted with the way that the season has developed.

"The club is doing very well," he added. "The main thing this season was to make progress in the Champions League and that's been brilliant.

"From a personal point of view I want to have some sort of input, I want to get back on the pitch and try to help as much as possible.

Target

"I want to get back in the team and score goals, it's the same target year in year out, I just want to contribute to the team.

"The winter break has given me some extra week to get back, I've had the chance to go away with the lads and get 25 minutes in a friendly.

"Everyone is talking about Juventus but there are some big cup ties and the league to concentrate on before we face them.

"Juventus will be a massive game but we have to put it on the back burner for a couple of weeks."

Celtic face Hearts at Parkhead tomorrow looking to extend their nine-point lead over second-placed Inverness Caley Thistle.

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