herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Stokes still hoping for a lead role in Old Firm

Anthony Stokes won't give up on his Old Firm dream.

Last Sunday, the Celtic striker took up his usual position on the bench at Ibrox as Georgios Samaras returned to the team to face Rangers.

With Celtic chasing the game, Stokes was introduced into the action but was helpless to prevent Celtic from losing 4-2 and falling four points behind Rangers in the race for the title.

Stokes is almost certain to be back in Neil Lennon's starting XI tomorrow for the visit of Inverness Caledonian Thistle but admits that his bit-part role when it comes to playing against Rangers is a big frustration.

"You have to take it on the chin and get on with it," he said diplomatically. "I have no doubt if I play against Rangers I have the ability to do well. I was hoping I'd play after starting most of the games this season.

"I have to put the gaffer in a position where he can't leave me out of the team.

"I didn't throw the toys out of the pram last season when I didn't play in those games, I was just a bit disappointed about it.



Happy

"The manager wouldn't have been happy if he left me out of the team and I wasn't disappointed by that.

"I have started this season reasonably well and I've scored a few goals. I want to get in the team for these big games. It all comes down to the gaffer and I just need to keep working hard."

Celtic's 2-0 win at Ross County went a small way towards restoring confidence after the defeat by Rangers.

The fallout from losing at Ibrox has been intense, with every area of the Celtic squad being questioned.

Celtic face Inverness, Udinese and Hearts in an eight-day spell, with Stokes hoping that the win over the Staggies is the start of a winning run.

"We owed it to the fans and everyone at the club because we were bitterly disappointed after Sunday's result," Stokes added.

"We did the right things against Ross County and got the result. Much has been made of the mental attitude but it's a very tough place to go.

"We want to go on a good run now. It's not going to be easy but we have to be confident we can go and win every game."

In the last eight of the League Cup, Celtic have been drawn away to Hibernian, with the match to be played on October 25/26.

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