BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Anthony Stokes has vowed to use his loan spell at Hibs to prove he still has a future at Celtic, despite insisting Ronny Deila “obviously doesn’t rate me as a footballer.”
Stokes has made just two appearances for the Hoops this term – with his last outing coming on August 22 – and has joined the Easter Road outfit until the end of the season in search of first-team football.
The 27-year-old had a high-profile bust-up with Deila after tweeting “Who gives a f*** about wages when you’re not playing games?” following his omission from the match-day squad against Inverness in November.
The Celtic boss branded him “disrespectful” and, despite emphasising that Deila is a “lovely fella”, Stokes admits he faces a tough task to win over the Norwegian.
Speaking for the first time since his switch to Easter Road, a candid Stokes said: “I don’t know what the issue is. I speak Ronny Deila on a regular basis – we have plenty of plenty of conversations!
“I like him, he is a good fella, but he obviously doesn’t rate me as a footballer because if he did I would be in the team. It is what it is.
“You always have to keep positive, and always keep that bit of hope that you can win him over. Celtic is the club that I want to stay at so it is as simple as that.”
When it was suggested that some Celtic supporters would have liked to seen him given more of a look-in this season, he joked: “Pity they’re not picking the team, isn’t it?”
Nevertheless, Stokes, who has 18-months left to run on his deal, is refusing to throw in the towel at Celtic.
His scoring record of 76 goals since joining the club in a £2 million deal in 2010 stands up to scrutiny, and he fully intends to be finding the net for the Hoops next season.
He added: “Of course I need to prove myself. You need to prove yourself year in, year out. There is no different here.
“I’m a Celtic player and there is a year option on my contract and I want to go back there. I want to help Hibs as much as I possibly can and get as close as we can to winning the title – but I want to go back to Celtic fit, confident and in the best shape I can be.
“I have every intention of going back to Celtic next year and trying to get into the team.”