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Lennon: I can trust Stokes now after Rennes show

Anthony Stokes has finally convinced Neil Lennon that he has the qualities to be a Celtic striker.

For over a year the striker has been the fall guy -- the first name not on the team-sheet -- when it comes to naming a side to face Rangers or for a European tie.

Seven times this year Stokes has taken his place on the bench when Lennon matched his side up with Rangers with the 23-year-old getting a similar view for the European ties away to Sion and Atletico Madrid.

The tide first turned Stokes' way last Saturday at Kilmarnock when a two-goal burst helped salvage a point from a three-goal deficit.

Against Rennes on Thursday night, with little alternative, Lennon played Stokes as the lone striker and although he failed to find the net he contributed hugely to an impressive performance that collected a rare point on foreign shores.

"Stokes' performance in Rennes showed me I can trust him now, and that's a good thing," the Celtic boss admitted. "A lot of our players are young and a nice bunch of boys but they need to let their personalities come out a bit more. Sometimes you want a little bit of the devil to manifest itself.



Devil

"Stokes has plenty of the devil in him, he just needs to channel it in the right direction.

"We've had a chat with him about his off-field discipline and he's getting a lot of respect from the players now because he's doing it on the pitch.

"I thought he was brilliant in France on Thursday. I thought it was a really mature performance -- he wasn't giving the ball up cheaply, and some of his movement was superb.

"He doesn't need to prove a point to me, he needs to prove it to himself and his team-mates because I think there's a very good player there desperate to get out."

Celtic return to Parkhead tomorrow when they host Aberdeen after a torrid time on the road picking up one point and losing nine goals away to Rangers, Hearts and Kilmarnock.