Let's grab this second chance, says Celtic striker Stokes

ANTHONY STOKES is in the business of making the most of chances that come his way.

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Celtic's Anthony Stokes at Glasgow Airport yesterday before flying out to face Maribor
Celtic's Anthony Stokes at Glasgow Airport yesterday before flying out to face Maribor

And that's precisely what the Celtic striker believes Ronny Deila's side must do tonight in Maribor, having been thrown a Champions League lifeline by Uefa.

The Republic of Ireland striker admits they were knocked cold by Legia Warsaw, and only the Polish champions breaking the eligibility rules let the smelling salts be applied to Celtic's challenge for a Champions League Group Stage place.

Now they must show they have the backbone to pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and come out swinging against NK Maribor.

Stokes said it was a testing time losing 6-1 on aggregate to Legia, then following the case going through Uefa and the Court of ­Arbitration for Sport. But, he said: "Once Uefa dismissed the Legia appeal, we were safe and we have a second chance.

"We have to grasp it with both hands, which we failed to do in the two Legia games."

Stokes refutes any idea that with European football guaranteed until December in Champions or Europa leagues, the pressure is off.

"The pressure is always there, no matter how we end up playing in this tie," he said, speaking from experience of European campaigns which have flourished and bombed.

"We have ridden our luck, obviously, getting the second chance. But if anything it will be even harder to take if we don't grasp the opportunity after everything that's happened.We need to get through to the Group Stages."

That would not erase the bitter memories of their performances against Legia, though it would bring £15million into the club's coffers, and a brighter perspective to the season.

Stokes joked: "We didn't get a win bonus for that 3-0 result, by the way - but I'd have taken a hat-trick."

But he added: "It was harsh on Legia, there's no argument about that. They were the better team over the two legs, but the rules are there for a reason … all that matters now is we make amends for how we played before and give the fans a result."


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