Tannadice Park

Next Game

Dundee U v Celtic

Sunday, 21 December 2014, 12:15

Scots Prem

Celtic Park

Last Game

Celtic 4 - 1 St Mirren

Sunday, 14 December 2014, 13:00

Scots Prem

Lennon hoping Stokes signs

Neil Lennon insists he can trust the "maturing" Anthony Stokes and hopes the striker signs a new deal at Celtic.

Last Updated: 30/06/13 at 14:02 Post Comment

Anthony Stokes and Neil Lennon: Boss wants striker to stay

Anthony Stokes and Neil Lennon: Boss wants striker to stay

The 24-year-old has scored 31 goals in 80 SPL appearances for the Hoops since moving from Hibernian three summers ago, but has rejected the Scottish champions' initial offer of a new contract.

Last season, ankle injury problems meant he missed the first half of the campaign, while a series of off-field misdemeanours tested the patience of Lennon and the club hierarchy.

However, Lennon refuses to give up on Stokes, having seen enough from him on the pitch since the turn of the year to keep him in his plans for 2013/14, when Celtic will again be looking to qualify for the Champions League group stages. The Dubliner ended the campaign by setting up both of Gary Hooper's goals in the 3-0 Scottish Cup final win over his old club Hibs at Hampden.

"His record is good," Lennon told the Sunday Mail. "Twenty plus in his first two seasons, and then I think he got seven in 12 starts when he came back after January.

"He has goals in him and as you saw in the cup final, there are other good aspects to his game.

"Can I trust him at European level? I think so, yeah. I think he's coming to that age when he's maturing and physically he's getting stronger.

"He's been around long enough to know what's expected of him now and I think he'll play more of a part in the bigger games."

Lennon is optimistic that the contract wrangle with Stokes can be solved to the satisfaction of all parties.

"He rejected our initial offer but I would imagine we'll come again and get him done," added the Bhoys manager.

"I'd like him to stay and I don't really think he wants to go, so we'll speak to his agent over the next week or so.

"It's not that it's taken longer than I thought. He has to think about his own future and is well within his rights to turn down the offer. I never doubted his commitment, just his discipline problems - the rascal in him."

Stokes was reprimanded by Celtic for attending a memorial event dedicated to a Real IRA commander midway through last season. Three weeks ago, also in Dublin, he was accused of breaking the nose of an Elvis impersonator at a nightclub - an incident which Lennon believes was "blown out of proportion".

The Celtic boss acknowledges Stokes' capacity to cause trouble but he claims the positives far outweigh the negatives.

"You don't want to take the devil out of him, but it was affecting his performances on the field as well," he added.

"I think the injury, and sitting out the Champions League games sparked something in him.

"He worked really hard, came back - he was a little bit inconsistent at first which you understand after so long out - but towards the end of the season, he was playing well.

"I saw a difference in him last year. He's always been a good trainer, so I'm hoping for a big season from him.

"He's a great lad - he just lets himself down. He has that self-destruct button at times but more and more, he's tending to shy away from that now."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

m only commenting on this (I don't care about Liverpool) because F365's twitter said I had call Matt Stanger a tw*t (which I don't agree with anyway) but I just wanted to be the first. Am I the first?

tk421
Trial And Error Rather Than Transition

S

unday, Sunday. Will there be a fan of either team, who if they are winning after 80 mins, won't still be nervous? This could be anything from 0-0 to 5-5, and no one would bat an eye.

megabrow (cufc)
A Season Of Continuous False Dawns

T

his year I am getting F365 a whack-a-mole game but with Brendan instead of the mole (Like the one with JD on Scrubs) and every time he pops up he says something. Outstanding Whack!, Character Whack!, Magnificent Whack!, Wonderful Composure Whack, Whack f**king Whack. Hours of fun.

hump3.
Trial And Error Rather Than Transition

Footer 365

Premier League: Joe Hart agrees long-term contract with Manchester City

Joe Hart has signed a new long-term contract which keeps him at Manchester City until the end of the 2018-19 season.

Premier League: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says Manchester United can still win title

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert believes Saturday's opponents Manchester United can still win the Barclays Premier League.

Premier League: Manuel Pellegrini confident James Milner will sign new deal at Manchester City

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident James Milner will soon sign a new contract with the club.

Mail Box

More Players In The Wrong Bloody Shirt

Plus Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks 'heart-breakingly well-suited to a Real Madrid shirt' according to one United fan. Plus, words from the good doctor and plenty more...

Players Plainly Wearing The Wrong Strip...

There are some players who just look plain daft in whatever shirt they're wearing. Like Cesc and Robin. It's a cracking mailbox with a load of different themes...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property