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Stokes: Glad I stuck it out

ANTHONY Stokes has spoken out about the sacrifices he's made to take him to the brink of becoming a title winner at Celtic, writes Joe McHugh.

The striker returns to Kilmarnock on Saturday with happy memories of the Ayrshire ground where he scored his first Celtic goal and netted a memorable double in October, as Neil Lennon's side salvaged a point after looking dead and buried when they trailed 3-0 at half-time.

Stokes has spent almost half of his life away from Dublin and admits that joining Arsenal as a schoolboy tested his resolve to the maximum.

"I was lucky enough to have my family with me," he recalled about his move to London. "I think I'd have struggled to stick it out if I didn't.

"I found it a little bit hard trying to adjust to living in London and school without having my friends around, but you just have to stick at it.

"I went back to Ireland a lot more at that time, I was probably back once a month. Now I might not be back for four or five months.

"One day my dad settled me down and told me to stick it out - and now I'm delighted that I did that.

"You have to sacrifice a lot but the rewards in the end have outweighed anything I gave up."