Stokes says Celts are flat out trying to hit high note this season

ANTHONY STOKES says Celtic are still flying high despite an apparent flatness in their play.

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Anthony Stokes doesn't care if Celtic win ugly as they look to continue their unbeaten run against St Mirren tomorrow
Anthony Stokes doesn't care if Celtic win ugly as they look to continue their unbeaten run against St Mirren tomorrow

Despite the rampant Bhoys being unbeaten in the SPFL Premiership, sitting 11 points clear at the summit and having not conceded a goal in a staggering seven games and 675 minutes of league football, the candid goal-grabber reckons there has been a flatness to his side's recent play.

A gruelling five-game schedule crammed into a 15-day festive card has come hot on the heels of the Hoops' elimination from the Champions League, leaving them without any European action after Christmas.

The howling gales and horizontal rain which battered Parkhead on New Year's Day are set to hit St Mirren Park when Neil Lennon's men come calling tomorrow at lunch time.

But the hard-to-please hit man is refusing to look for excuses over a perceived flatness that has afflicted his side's play, and is determined Celtic will sign off for their two-week break in style.

The striker said: "I don't think it (the flatness) is down to being out of Europe.

"I just think it is the volume of games at the minute. We are unbeaten in the league and that is all we can do and try to maintain that.

"But Europe is gone. It was a disappointing campaign. We got ourselves into the Champions League but then it was disappointing.

"But we need to forget about Europe.

"Our bread and butter is winning the league and we are still in the Scottish Cup and we want to go on and win that too."

Stokes continued: "We know the fans have not been too happy in the last couple of weeks about the performances but winning games is what it is all about.

"I'd rather play badly and win. We have had great performances and dropped points in the past but at the end of the day winning game is what gets you lifting trophies.

"I think the fans expect us to beat sides three or four nil but teams don't make it easy for us. They don't go out there to lie down but they sit in, and especially this season they defend with their lives.

"If it is one nil I'll take it. If you look at the stats we have gone six or seven games without conceding a goal and that is impressive.

"I think the Hearts and Motherwell games were the best we have played all season but it is very hard to maintain that level of performance.

"Having said that, we need to improve and try and dominate games more.

"We have gone one up in the last two games we haven't really seen it out and it has been a bit of a grind.

"But the first thing we must do is focus on tomorrow. It is another difficult game for us away from home and we want to keep the run going.."

Celtic have agreed to take part in the Antalya Cup, from January 6 to 13, after exercising an option to postpone their league clash with Kilmarnock on January 11.

SPFL Premiership clubs are allowed two free weekends for a voluntary winter break and Neil Lennon's men will join Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and renew their Champions League rivalry with Dutch champions Ajax, in the four-team tournament.

Stokes is looking forward to the break.

He said: "The Christmas and new year period takes its toll.

"It is demanding, five games in 15 days or something like that.

"But we are winning games and the gaffer has a big enough squad to change things around.

"It is nice to be playing but some of the games over Christmas, well it would be nice to have a break.

"It is a heavy load, I don't think it is too many games, as we have a big enough squad to cope but it does take its toll."

He added: "The last couple of games we haven't got into our stride and have not managed to pop the ball around.

"So we have to focus on our football but with the weather the way it was against Thistle you can't expect the fans to be in full voice.

"But we probably didn't do enough on the pitch to entertain them."


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