Saturday 16 December 2017

Lennon urges Trapattoni to give Stokes a chance

Neil Lennon has pleaded with Giovanni Trapattoni not to kill off Anthony Stokes' international hopes.

The Celtic boss is ready to open talks on an improved long-term deal for the 23-year-old who has been snubbed by the international scene since pulling out of a squad at the end of last season.

Trapattoni has plenty of striking options to choose from but Lennon hopes that Stokes hasn't been completely written off by the Italian.

"Anthony hasn't played in any of the qualifying games and he pulled out of the squad because he was feeling tired at the end of last season," the Celtic boss admitted. "I think he now realises that was an error of judgment and, regardless of whether Ireland had qualified for the finals or not, he does want to play for them.

"I don't know if it's a personal thing, he's in form and he's scored 18 goals this season. If he keeps going in the same vein, I'll be putting a call into the FAI and saying, 'I think this kid is worth a look'. I'm not going to tell Mr Trapattoni how to do his job. I'm sure the Irish boys have got their scouts and have the reports."

Stokes has represented Ireland at every level but is unlikely to get anywhere near the action next summer.

Earning a new deal from Lennon on the back of a treble-winning season is a more realistic ambition with the 18-goal striker resigned to watching from afar when Ireland get their Euro 2012 underway in Poland.

Stokes said: "I've played for Ireland since I was 14 through to the full team, it's disappointing just now but there are some very good players there, sometimes you just have to be patient.

"I can't really do much more about that than try to perform on the pitch and hopefully the call-up comes.

"I'll be delighted to watch the European Championships, if you look at Ireland over the last year or two against the bigger teams and they seem to have done really well and I hope that continues."

Tonight Stokes will be hoping to take Celtic 20 points ahead of Rangers when they face Dunfermline at Parkhead.

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