Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stokes looking forward to Celtic challenge

Celtic new recruit Anthony Stokes says he has arrived at the club a more mature player after completing a transfer deadline day move.

Irish international Stokes put pen-to-paper on a four-year deal at the Glasgow giants following a reported £1.2million switch from SPL rivals Hibernian.

The deal has brought the 22-year-old to Parkhead three years after turning down the Old Firm club, who made overtures for the Irishman in 2007.

Stokes opted to join Sunderland instead, but after a punctuated spell in England, has finally made his way to Celtic.

And now he believes the move has come at the right time after returning to Scotland with Hibs last season.

Stokes said: "I went to Sunderland and made a lot of mistakes and I'm glad I didn't do that here because I wouldn't have the opportunity that I have today to come here and hopefully score a lot of goals and try to be here for as long as possible.

"I was probably a bit more immature then. I'm sure I still have a lot more to learn but coming here on the back of the goals I scored last year (23 in all competitions) with Hibs will give me confidence as well."

Stokes endured a frustrating time at Sunderland, scoring just five goals in 38 games in a spell that included loan stints at Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.

His return north of the border to John Hughes' side last August helped him revitalise his career - something the striker is grateful for.

Stokes went on: "I knew I was going to have to start from the bottom again and build myself up. I wasn't playing any games, even reserves.

"I was lucky a club like Hibs came in for me. I was sitting in Sunderland rotting away and as soon as the gaffer was in for me again, I knew it would be a good move for me."

And after finalising terms with Neil Lennon's side, the front man is keen to settle in a Celtic shirt.

He concluded: "Hopefully I can do well and settle here. It's been in the papers for the last few days how many clubs I have had. If it was up to me I would sign a contract for the rest of my career."

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