Sunday 19 January 2020

Stokes: Celtic deserve more credit

Anthony Stokes
Anthony Stokes

Andy Newport

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes claims memories of the Hoops' incredible European achievements have already begun to fade in the minds of their critics.

The Parkhead frontman suggested Neil Lennon's Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions have not received their fair share of credit this term.

The Hoops stunned European football when they toppled Barcelona in Glasgow in the Champions League group stage on their way to the premier continental competition's round of 16.

They were knocked out by Juventus following a 5-0 aggregate defeat to the Italian champions but recovered to wrap up their second successive SPL title.

But just seven wins from their final 13 league fixtures left the club open to criticism as some pundits suggested Lennon's men had stumbled across the finishing line.

Irishman Stokes, however, insists the club can be proud of their exploits as they chase the domestic double in Sunday's William Hill Scottish Cup final against his former club Hibernian.

He said: "Have we had the credit we deserved this season? I don't know. When we were doing really well in Europe, everybody was talking about us being a great young side.

"But when you tail off with three or four games to go, people tend to have short memories.

"We will look back on it as a great season with a great run in Europe. We won the league fairly comfortably and our main aim now is to do the double."

Celtic wrapped up the SPL flag with five games to go and Stokes says back-to-back four-goal wins over St Johnstone and Dundee United in their final two SPL fixtures proves they have now got over their slump.

"The league is the main aim year after year - it's the big one," he said. "I think we deserve the double this year.

"I wasn't involved in the Champions League run but I think the team has been outstanding throughout the whole season.

"You are going to hit (disappointing) spells towards the end of the season, which we have done, but I think we have got over that with the last two performances and we are going to Hampden to win.

"I think we deserve to lift the cup based on the way we have been playing. Maybe I shouldn't say 'deserve' as we still have to go out and perform at the weekend.

"But I think the way we have played this season, it would put a bit of a dampener on things if we didn't go on to secure the double."

Stokes is out of contract this summer but has not given up hope of penning a new deal. His representatives have held discussions with the club and the player is confident a new agreement will be struck soon.

He said: "It's going on at the minute now and there are contracts getting sorted out. I'm confident enough it will be signed.

"My agent has been in and spoken to the people at the club. It's an ongoing process but I'm sure something will come about from it."

PA Media

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