Friday 18 January 2019

Stokes hungry for a taste of the Old Firm

Anthony Stokes is hoping that it's not third time unlucky when Neil Lennon picks his side to face Rangers on Sunday.

In most circumstances a striker boasting nine goals from his last seven appearances could confidently look forward to the next match but recent experiences suggest that Stokes' place has a question mark against it.

A fortnight ago at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup the former Sunderland striker watched the drama from the bench as Ki Sung-Yeung took his place in a midfield that earned a 2-2 draw despite being down to 10 men. Stokes was also on the bench in January when a Georgios Samaras' double breathed new life into the title race as Lennon's understrength side shocked Rangers with a 2-0 win at Ibrox.

Sunday's clash is at Parkhead in front of 50,000 Celtic supporters but 18-goal Stokes is well aware that he may end up starting the match on the substitute's bench.

"My main disappointment last time was because I felt that I was playing well and scoring," he admitted. "I had a brief chat with the coaching staff, to be honest I was disappointed but there is nothing I can do about it, it was the gaffer's decision.

"We went there and played really well so I can't complain. It's different when you are playing in a derby match, you have to change your tactics. I just have to work hard in training and hopefully get myself back into the team.

"Games against Rangers are the ones that you want to play in and score. As a striker you always judge yourself on the goals you score against top opposition and in Scotland that means Rangers."

Lennon has no fresh injuries to contend with and whilst Rangers are involved in the Europa League tomorrow night against Sporting Lisbon, Celtic have a free week.

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