I don't care what Lennon thinks of me, insists Celtic striker Stokes
Published 16/03/2013 | 05:00
ANTHONY STOKES has risked the wrath of Neil Lennon by stating that the Celtic manager's opinions about his personality are of no consequence to him.
Lennon publicly chastised the 24-year-old for attending a memorial event in honour of family friend Alan Ryan, the head of the Real IRA, who was gunned down last year. The Celtic boss was also unhappy with the player's attitude during his rehab from an ankle injury which ruled him out for five months.
He was part of the side slated by Lennon after losing 3-2 to Ross County last weekend – and those players are expected to prove their commitment by beating Aberdeen at Parkhead today.
Stokes who famously fell foul of Roy Keane for his off-field behaviour during his ill-fated spell with Sunderland, is unrepentant, however, claiming that he was not stung by Lennon's criticism.
"No, not really," he said. "Listen, I don't really care what the gaffer thinks of me personally. It would be nice to get on with him – and I think I have a good relationship with him. But I only really care about how I do on the pitch for him.
"That's where I should be judged, on the pitch. I get on reasonably well with him. We're not best mates but I don't think he hates me either. It's a normal player/manager relationship."
Then again, Stokes made it clear that it is not only Lennon whose views do not interest him.
"I don't care what other people think about me," he said. "Since I've been in the SPL I've always managed to score around 20 goals a season. If I'm playing every week I can hit 25-30. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years I haven't played every week. As a striker, I should be judged purely on goals and assists."
Stokes' contract expires this summer but the club have the option to retain him for 2013-14.
He has been in and out of the team since his comeback from injury, and his long-term prospects with the SPL champions do not appear to be particularly rosy, as Lennon has previously said that Stokes had damaged the reputation of the club by turning up at the benefit night for Ryan.