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Stokes: Celts were up for cup

ANTHONY STOKES has denied claims that Celtic took St Mirren too lightly in Sunday's League Cup semi-final defeat at Hampden.

Neil Lennon described the performance as soulless and accused his players of being like spoiled children, while fans used stronger, more colourful terms to describe the display.

Celtic have lost on their last three visits to Hampden, against Kilmarnock, Hearts and St Mirren, with hopes of a domestic treble killed stone dead.

Stokes came on as a second-half substitute for Georgios Samaras and dismisses the view that his team-mates weren't as determined as their opponents.

"I don't go along with the suggestion we didn't want it enough on Sunday, not at all," he said.

"Everyone else might be talking about the Juventus game but within the club the only focus on Sunday was getting a result against St Mirren and getting to the League Cup final.


"The way the day turned out was a massive disappointment to everyone connected with the club.

"It's a setback because it was a chance for us to get to the first final of the season, which is always a landmark in any year.

"We now owe the supporters who came to the game a performance in the weeks to come to rectify what was a bad day for us."

Looking at his contribution, Stokes added: "I'm glad I'm back playing after being out for so long and it was good to be out on the pitch again but it was obviously a really disappointing set of circumstances to come back to."

p Celtic signed Ireland's Under-15 captain Brandon Payne from Lucan United last weekend.

Manchester United and Manchester City led a host of English club's looking to sign the midfielder, who will move to Glasgow next January.

Payne comes from a Celtic-supporting family and met with Neil Lennon and Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell when he signed his three-year contract.