Ex Sunderland striker has high hopes for Celtic

Anthony Stokes.
Anthony Stokes.
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FORMER Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes is gunning for William Hill Scottish Cup glory in tomorrow’s Hampden Park final.

Stokes’s Celtic team take on a Hibs side desperate to end their 111-year wait for a third Scottish Cup.

Hibs’ main danger will come from 28-goal striker Leigh Griffiths, but Stokes insists his old club have other threats that cannot be ignored.

“Leigh is right up there with the best SPL strikers,” said Stokes, who joined Celtic from the Easter Road club three years ago.

“So many of his chances he creates for himself and he works very hard for the team. He’s a top striker and someone we will have to watch very carefully,” said Stokes, 24.

“You can’t call Hibs a one-man team at all, though. You can’t put anyone into that bracket. Just have a look at their squad, they have a very good one at Hibs.

“Leigh has stood out because he has scored their goals and that tends to happen. We will have to watch him but there will be dangers all over the park.”

Stokes will look back with fondness on a season which saw Celtic topple Barcelona on the way to reaching the Champions League knockout stage, and a second successive SPL title.

But just seven wins from their final 13 league fixtures left the club open to criticism as some pundits suggested Neil 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.

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. It’s an ongoing process but I’m sure something will come about from it.”