Anthony Stokes vows to fight new Bhoys over Celtic first-team slot

FROZEN-out Anthony Stokes has vowed to go head to head with Celtic's new Bhoys to save his Parkhead career.

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Anthony Stokes returned to action against Steaua Bucharest this week
Anthony Stokes returned to action against Steaua Bucharest this week

The 24-year-old, out of contract at the end of the season, has been sidelined for months with ankle ligament damage. And he has watched as manager Neil Lennon has delved into the transfer market to sign Lassad Nouioui and Miku to bolster his attack.

But last night Stokes came out fighting over his future. He said: "There are two or three new faces so I am hoping that brings out the best in me. There is a lot of competition for places.

"Obviously I want to have some sort of input in that and play as much as possible. I want to get back in the team and score goals.

"You want to contribute as much as you can to the team, but I need to get as much match fitness and sharpness as I can."

The striker also warned his team-mates to forget all thoughts of the Champions League clash against Juventus next month.

Celtic return to SPL duty tomorrow when they host Hearts and Stokes knows the domestic form needs to be better in the latter half of the season.

"We have to forget about Juventus until it comes up," he said.

"We have the league to concentrate on and big cup ties coming up as well, and we can't afford to take our eye off the ball.

"It is a massive game, we all know about it, but we just have to put it on the back burner for a couple of weeks."

Stokes returned to first-team action in this week's friendly against Steaua Bucharest,

And the Irishman is determined to push on and give Lennon a selection headache up front.

He told Celtic TV: "I got 25 minutes under my belt on Tuesday night and the ankle is feeling good, so I'm glad to be back.

"I've put the hard work in and it felt fairly easy; I just slotted in. The break worked out well because it gave me an extra week of sharpness."

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