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Stokes wants to make point

ANTHONY Stokes is ready to turn Celtic supporters into believers after signing a four-year deal which cut through the transfer deadline confusion hovering over Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish squad.

This is Stokes' second coming at Parkhead. Three years ago, the then teenager held talks with then manager Gordon Strachan but left without signing after jumping at an offer to join Roy Keane at Sunderland.

That decision still rankles with a lot of Celtic supporters but the U21 striker knows that a burst of goals will soon have the fans onside.

Stokes admitted: "I couldn't say no to Celtic, not second time around. When I was on loan at Falkirk Sunderland came in and it was a huge decision for me.

"Unfortunately, things didn't work out down there for one reason or another but the main thing is I've got to Celtic.

"I know I'm lucky to get a second chance at coming to a club like this. Not too many people get that opportunity, so I have to be grateful. I want to make the most of it and I can't wait to get started."

A weekend stand-off between the clubs was broken yesterday morning with the final piece of the deal falling into place when Hibs brought in Daryl Duffy on loan from Bristol Rovers.

A medical at Celtic is expected to be a formality, allowing the striker to meet up with his Irish Under 21 team mates in London for the double-header with Switzerland and Turkey.

Stokes worked with Hibs boss John Hughes when he was on loan at Falkirk and thanked his mentor for rescuing his career after falling out of favour at Sunderland.

The Celtic new boy added: "I need to say a big thank you to Hibs and John Hughes because they have been great for me.

"I loved every minute of my time there and it's going to be difficult to leave them."

Lennon remains on the look-out for a central defender and has until midnight before the transfer window closes in Scotland to add to his squad.

Stokes will be joined on Under 21 duty by Richie Towell, who was called into the squad yesterday. Towell was a regular in the Under 19 side last season and has been an unused substitute in Celtic's last two SPL outings.