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Thursday 21 August 2014

Anthony Stokes' big chance to rekindle Irish flame

Celtic striker can force way into King's plans by proving class against mighty Barcelona

sOCCER Daniel McDonnell

Published 01/10/2013 | 05:00

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Anthony Stokes could push himself into contention for the Irish team tonight against Barcelona
Anthony Stokes could push himself into contention for the Irish team tonight against Barcelona

ANTHONY Stokes will push himself into serious contention for a World Cup qualifying start against Germany if he delivers against Barcelona in the Champions League this evening.

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Caretaker Ireland boss Noel King has recalled Stokes to the squad for the concluding ties with Germany and Kazakhstan and is viewing the Celtic star as a serious option on the basis of his European performances for the SPL champions.

The 25-year-old is in line to figure against the La Liga giants at Celtic Park tonight and King will be in attendance.

He worked with the Dubliner at U-21 level and, unlike Giovanni Trapattoni, has no concerns about his attitude.

"He has been terrific, especially in the European games," said King. "He's forced himself to be number one, he's developed his talent further and he's knocking on the door to get involved.

"I find him a good man, he's a good fella with lots of talent and I think he's starting to settle and show that talent now.

"He's versatile, he can play on his own up there (striker), I think he can play wide and I think he can play as a No 10 would you believe."

Stokes missed out on Celtic's European ties with Barcelona a year ago after a season where he was either injured or out of favour.

GROWN

He has grown in Neil Lennon's estimation, with the Hoops boss revealing his delight at the player's return to the international fold.

King has also welcomed Darron Gibson, Kevin Doyle and Andy Reid back into the squad, with the latter returning after a five-year absence.

The interim boss was also keen to include Stephen Ireland, but the Stoke midfielder declined on the basis that he wants to build his fitness and become a regular with his club.

He indicated to King that he will make himself available when he reaches peak condition.

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