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Thursday 22 March 2018

Anthony Stokes tells Celtic boss Ronny Delia he wants to stay

Anthony Stokes
Anthony Stokes

Ronnie Esplin

Anthony Stokes has told boss Ronny Deila that he wants to stay and fight for his place at Celtic.

The "humble" Hoops striker returned to training this week after a two-week suspension for indiscipline issues, including using social media to express his disgruntlement at being left out of the 18 after travelling with the Parkhead squad last month to Inverness for a Ladbrokes Premiership match.

Ahead of the visit of Motherwell on Saturday, Deila was asked if the 27-year-old Irishman had indicated his desire to get back into the team.

"Yes, of course he has and that is important," said the Norwegian. "He loves Celtic and he wants to stay here but he also understands that he needs to improve certain things.

"I love Stokesy, I have nothing wrong to say about him. But this is a professional football club and we want to get the best out of everybody Motherwell is going to be too quick. He has not trained for a couple of weeks so he needs time to show and again, this is to show over time, it is not about one week, it is about changing over time.

"We have had a talk with him, he is humble, an intelligent guy. He knows what I expect and the changes he needs to make to be part of the first team or the squad and we have to see through time if those changes are going to be made.

"He has apologised. I talked to him before so this is nothing new. We had to make a mark, we did it and now we move on. He has ability and when you have ability it is about getting the best out of it and that is my task. I will never give up. I believe that people will change. I believe that people want to get better and then I have to do everything I can to get out their potential. If we can get the best out of Stokesy everybody knows that we have a great player."

The former Stromsgodset boss also used the press conference to reveal the club could not get in touch with 24-year-old midfielder James Forrest's agent to discuss a new contract.

In a light-hearted manner Deila said: "We have tried to get hold of his agent so you can write that when he has time, he can come in and discuss an offer. We have tried for a while so hopefully he will come - like Santa.

"Maybe he has a lot to do. I don't know how many players he has. It doesn't concern me but hopefully we will get contact now and start talking."

Deila paid tribute to Billy McNeill whose statue will be unveiled outside the stadium before the Motherwell game. The Parkhead club will honour the man who captained Jock Stein's Lisbon Lions to their famous European Cup final victory over Inter Milan in 1967 before two spells as manager.

Deila said: "I knew about him before I came here. He is a legend at the club. He has played around 800 times for the club, the amount of trophies he has won is unbelievable. He was the captain of the Lisbon Lions in 1967, he is a big personality at Celtic and it is a big day on Saturday. This is very deserved."

Press Association

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