ANTHONY Stokes wants to stay at Celtic, fight for his first team place at Parkhead and prove to Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni that he is worth another look.
Stokes has been linked with a move back to England as Celtic comes to terms with the financial implications of the implosion at Rangers.
After missing Euro 2012, the Dubliner is also waiting with baited breath for Friday’s press conference in Donegal when Trapattoni will announce his squad for next month’s friendly against Serbia.
Stokes told the Irish Sun, “It was difficult watching the Euros because things didn’t go to plan. We were playing against very good teams out there.
“The first game killed us a bit but Spain went on to win the competition. It was a very tough group and I am sure the fans and the players probably wanted a bit more but it wasn’t to be.
“I would have loved to have been there but it wasn’t to be. I just have to focus on my club football and I am just focusing on the Champions League and hopefully doing well in that.
“If a recall happens then it would be brilliant but I just need to concentrate on my club form. I think it is clear to see that Trapattoni is pretty rigid with his squad and unless that changes I might not have a chance of getting back in.
“He is probably right with what he has done because you only had to look at our form in the run up to the competition because I don’t think we had lost in 13 or 14 games.
At club level, Stokes is also determined to prove his worth to Celtic boss Neil Lennon ahead of the Champions League campaign.
He added, “Playing in the Champions League is massive for any player and any club. It is one of the best competitions in the world and we are all up for it.”
Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow have also been linked with a move for Stokes but he insisted, “I am happy here. I am in the last year of my contract and things are going well and I don’t even want to worry about things like that.
“We have big games coming up and the Champions League is the main thing I am focusing on because it is the first game. I would like to extend my contract but I don’t know what the situation is to be honest.”
Celtic boss Neil Lennon says he wants to keep Stokes, but knows he may have to sell players due to the financial implications of Rangers’ removal from the Premier League and their presence in the Scottish Third Division next season.
Lennon told the Daily Express, “I’ve not heard a thing about other clubs being interested. He had a great season last year. He’s still young -- still only 23 -- even though he’s been around the British game for what seems a lot longer.
“There is scope for him to improve. He’s a goal scorer and I wouldn’t be in too big a hurry to let him go.
“But Anthony is in the last year of his contract and that’s something we’ll be looking at over the next few weeks once we get back and talk things through.”
Lennon is busy on the transfer front, with Celtic linked with South Korea international winger Kim Bo-Kyung, Leeds United youngster Aidan White and Polish full-back Sebastian Boenisch, who has just left German outfit Werder Bremen.
Irish striker Daryl Murphy, back at the club after a loan spell at Ipswich, could also stay as Lennon adapts to the new financial reality in Scottish football.
Celtics’s poor pre-season form continued when they were beaten 1-0 away to German third division side Stuttgart Kickers on Sunday.
ST. Patrick’s Athletic have received a bye into the quarterfinals of the FAI Cup after Monaghan United withdrew from senior football. The Saints will miss the third round of the competition with the pick of the draw the all-Premier clash between Shamrock Rovers and Cork City.
The third round draw for the FAI Cup is -- Waterford United vs. Mervue United; Malahide United vs. Dundalk; Shamrock Rovers vs. Cork City; Bohemians vs. Avondale United; Drogheda United vs. Wexford Youths; UCD vs. Derry City; Shelbourne vs. Cherry Orchard. Bye: St Pat’s.
Drogheda United are up to second in the Premier Division table after beating St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 in Dublin on Sunday, but Sligo are still ahead of the pack after their 2-1 win in Derry.
Shamrock Rovers stuttered again with a 1-1 draw at Dundalk, while Bohs bounced back from their European exit to beat UCD 1-0 at Dalymount Park. Shels won a five goal thriller away to Bray Wanderers
There were mixed fortunes for Irish teams in Europa League action last week when Stephen O’Flynn scored a late goal to earn St. Pat’s victory on the away goals rule against IBV in Iceland.
There was no such luck for Bohs, however, as they crashed out 5-1 to Thor, also in Iceland.
COVENTRY City are ready to sell Dubliner Gary Deegan after he was suspended for posting a pro-IRA comment on Twitter. Irish winger Roy O’Donovan also looks set to leave the club . . .