herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Lennon: ‘Physicality’ saw Samaras pip Stokes

NEIL Lennon has explained why he prefers Georgios Samaras to Anthony Stokes in Old Firm clashes – and admitted that he needs to change his defence.

For the seventh time running Stokes was left on the bench for a game against Rangers as Samaras infuriated supporters with another sub-standard performance.

Stokes has scored three times this season – the same number that Samaras has netted this year – with the Greek striker scoring more goals at Ibrox than he has at Celtic Park.

The Celtic supporters post mortem from Sunday has centred on the role of Samaras with Glenn Loovens and Fraser Foster also in the firing line.

Stokes looks certain to start tonight's League Cup tie away to

Ross County but until he gets the

nod for a game against Rangers ahead of Samaras, there will always be questions for Lennon to answer.

“We need to get up the pitch at Ibrox and Samaras helps us do that,” the Celtic boss claimed.

“He stretches teams. We just felt he would be a better bet on Sunday than Anthony Stokes.

Critics

“The reason Anthony Stokes hasn't started many Old Firm games is due to the physicality of it.

“We also need Sammy's height at set-pieces as well.

“He helps with that and he's done so in the past.

“I'm not stubborn enough to stick two fingers up to the critics and say ‘you are wrong, I'm playing him to spite you'. I don't do that at all.

“I play him because I think he is an asset to what we are trying to do, certainly in a venue like Ibrox and he's proved that in the past.

“Sammy didn't have his best game on Sunday but you can point the finger probably at eight or nine others as well.”

Among the Ross County players hoping for a repeat of their 2010 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic is Kurtis Byrne, son of former Celt Paul.

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