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Celtic boss Neil Lennon wants Anthony Stokes to live up to potential

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 09:14 | Comments

Anthony Stokes endured a frustrating season last time out
Anthony Stokes endured a frustrating season last time out

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Celtic boss Neil Lennon has challenged striker Anthony Stokes to fulfil his potential and make a career for himself.

The 24-year-old Irishman endured a frustration spell on the sidelines through injury last season as his team-mates made a major impact in the Champions League, and Lennon believes that has increased his hunger.

Stokes has rejected an initial contract offer to stay at Parkhead, but Lennon is keen to keep him and see him make a good career for himself.

He said: "We have already made him an offer - he has knocked that back, but negotiations will be ongoing.

"We really saw the best of him towards the end of the season. He looks physically in the best shape he has been in.

"The four months out with the ankle injury and missing all those big European games, I think, made him realise what he really had here.

"He was such a pivotal player for us towards the end of the season, and his cup final performance was absolutely fantastic.

"He's always had the talent - I think now his mentality is changing. You can see him physically getting stronger. We know we have got a talented player on our hands and it's down to Anthony now.

"The opportunity is there for him to go and make a good career for himself. He is very important to me."

"We really saw the best of him towards the end of the season. He looks physically in the best shape he has been in"

Lennon was speaking in Dublin as he promoted August's friendly between the Bhoys and Liverpool at the Aviva Stadium, and as he prepares to delve into the summer transfer market, he admitted two Republic of Ireland internationals might come under consideration.

Lennon tried unsuccessfully to sign Wolves striker Kevin Doyle on loan in January, and is maintaining a watching brief.

He said: "I have always liked Kevin. He wasn't having a great time at Wolves and we just felt that coming to Celtic for a few months might have re-energised him.

He's got the talent, he's got the quality and to be fair to him, he had a good run towards the end of the season when he started banging a few goals in for Wolves.

"Yes, there's an interest there in Kevin and always has been."

Central defender Richard Dunne, who played his first football for a year in Sunday's friendly victory over Georgia, is looking for a new club after being told he can leave Aston Villa.

However, Lennon admitted the 33-year-old's age could go against him.

He said: "I like Richard Dunne, I always have done. He's a great player, a great Irish player. He's had a long time out with injury and just the way we go about our business now, his age might go against him.

"However, I am not ruling that one out. He's a player I have admired for a long, long time, but I am sure there will be a number of clubs pursuing his services.

"That's a player we will think about, but in terms of the direction we go, his age would probably rule him out of that."

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