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Sunday 22 October 2017

Stokes: I have to IMPROVE

ANTHONY Stokes admits that he has to improve at club level before he can force his way into contention with the Ireland team.

The Celtic striker was an unused sub for the Euro 2016 double header against Gibraltar and Germany and his last appearance for the national side was against Poland 11 months ago.

The 26-year-old is also having a tough time at club level, his last goal for the Bhoys coming back in August, and Stokes knows he has to do better if he is to be involved in that massive Euro 2016 tie against Scotland at Celtic Park next month.

"I know at the minute there are plenty of strikers ahead of me in the queue for a starting placed in the Ireland team," says Stokes, who has won just eight caps since his debut in 2007.

"My club form has to improve. So far, this season, it's not been as good as I would have liked it to have been. I want to score more goals and contribute more overall to the team.

"It's always good to be involved with the national squad. We have some top players and I can learn from them. I do learn from them.

"It's also been a great insight into working with Martin O'Neill. I can't help but pick up little gems of advice.

"Spending so much time on the training pitch with Robbie Keane and seeing how he works can only be good for me. He's one of the best strikers in the business. His movement is brilliant," added Stokes.

The Dubliner has an insight into the Scotland camp as there are so many Celtic players in Gordon Strachan's squad and Stokes is looking forward to that Ireland-Scotland clash at his club's home ground next month.

"The Scotland squad is very strong. They've had positive results. They were tremendous in Germany for the last half-hour and created some excellent chances.

"They have built on that to get some great results. We have all had good results in the group and it's very open.

massive

"The next game is massive. Because it's at Celtic Park I'd really like to be involved. It would be good to play against the likes of Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew. I run rings around them in training every day," Stokes joked.

Meanwhile, Shaun Maloney says he is not surprised at how his former boss Martin O'Neill has turned around Ireland's fortunes. "It is no surprise to me that he has got Ireland playing the way they are. He is a superb man-manager," says Maloney.

"But I am hopeful that he doesn't have a positive result next month. Ireland will be trying to win as much as we will. It really is a mouth-watering game," added Maloney, who made his Celtic debut under O'Neill and also played for the Bhoys with Roy Keane."

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