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Lennon: goal a big boost for Anthony

NEIL LENNON was delighted to see Anthony Stokes on the scoresheet last night as Celtic bounced back to form with a 4-1 win over Kilmarnock.

Four minutes after replacing Kris Commons, Stokes was sent through on goal, took a touch to take the ball wide of goalkeeper Cammy Bell then slotted the ball home from a tight angle. Going 15 points clear of Inverness Caley Thistle at the top of the SPL was coincidental to regaining some pride after the League Cup defeat by St Mirren on Sunday, with the shadow of the transfer window hanging heavy over Celtic and top scorer Gary Hooper.

Lennon is braced for an anxious day with speculation rife that Norwich could come in with a fourth bid or a new offer could emerge for Hooper with Celtic suspicious of the way in which the striker's representatives have manipulated the transfer window.

Against that background, Stokes' goal on his third appearance as a substitute following his return from injury was a welcome sign for Lennon.

The Celtic boss said: "I'm delighted that Stokesey scored, that will give him a huge shot in the arm because he's worked really hard for it.

"There's more to come from him and that'll come through games. He came on on Sunday (in the defeat by St Mirren) and was so anxious to do well that the anxiety filtered into his game.

Movement

"I chatted to him before he went on, I said 'I know what you can do, just play your football'. I felt that he'd get chances with his movement and he took his goal well in a good team performance.

"We've scored 12 goals in our last three home games and we're 15 points clear now so things aren't too bad."

Asked about interest in Hooper, Lennon replied cautiously: "Never say never. There was a third bid from Norwich that was rejected, again it was well short of what we value Gary at. If people want to make a bid fine, they'll have to come forward with the money then we'll see where it takes us.

"You can never guarantee it but I'm hoping he is here on Friday. A lot of things happen on the last day, it's pretty frantic.

"Agents ring you, clubs ring you but the only concrete offer that we've had is for Gary from Norwich.

"He's a fantastic all round centre forward, the next time we're here we're playing Juventus and I think that really appeals to him as does going forward in the Championship."

After Joe Ledley put Celtic in front in the 41st minute Cillian Sheridan equalised for the visitors shortly after the restart, before a double from Adam Matthews and the goal from Stokes secured the points.

Emilio Izaguirre and Georgios Samaras were both replaced in the first half with the Greek midfielder having a scan on his hamstring today.

Samaras will be absent from Sunday's Scottish Cup tie with Raith Rovers and will almost certainly miss the home match with Juventus on February 12 if the scan confirms a hamstring strain.