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Lennon will let Stokes' red go

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon consoles Anthony Stokes after he was sent off. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon consoles Anthony Stokes after he was sent off. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon consoles Anthony Stokes after he was sent off. Picture credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

NEIL LENNON won't discipline Anthony Stokes for his red card against Motherwell on Saturday.

The striker was given a straight red card by referee Bobby Madden for a late lunge on Motherwell skipper Keith Lasley in the 79th minute.

Stokes became the first Celtic player to be ordered off in the league this season, but the Hoops held on to their 3-0 lead to stretch their lead to 13 points with two games in hand over second placed Aberdeen.

"I can understand the referee giving a red card, but I felt that it was harsh," Lennon explained.

"I think that Anthony has made a genuine attempt to get the ball, he's late and sometimes you get a red card for that, sometimes you don't.

"I was quite taken aback that he made a tackle, it's not often he goes to ground these days! I thought that he was brilliant; he was the catalyst for a lot of good things that came through the team.

"He's feeling a wee bit disappointed, normally I punish players for red cards, but I won't punish him for that."

Stokes played a major role in Celtic's first two goals, with his fifth minute shot parried by Motherwell keeper Gunnar Nielsen into the path of Kris Commons to net. Then, six minutes from the break, he was felled by Nielsen in the penalty box, with Commons ramming home the penalty for his 13th goal in the last two months.

A second half own goal by Stephen McManus completed the scoring as Celtic enjoyed their 21st game of the league campaign without a loss.

Lennon's plans are already geared towards next season's Champions League qualifiers with no serious competition for this season's title.

DISCUSSION

How Celtic would fare in England is a regular discussion point, with the Hoops boss confident that his current side would survive in the Premier League.

"I've taken in games in England and they tend to over egg the product," the former Leicester City midfielder said.

"With my group of players, we would be okay in the Premier League.

"We would hold our own. There is quality down there, no question about it, but there is a lot of mediocrity as well.

"I'm not saying we would be top 10, but we'd be mid-table anyway. I don't think we would be in the relegation dogfight."

Stokes is suspended for Sunday's trip to Easter Road to face his old club Hibs, but Celtic may appeal against his red card.


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