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'Of course I can win my Ireland place back'

The Dublin-born striker is also ultimately aiming to regain his spot in the Celtic side.

Stokes has made just two appearances for Celtic this season.
Stokes has made just two appearances for Celtic this season.

HIBERNIAN STRIKER ANTHONY Stokes is optimistic a good run of form could see him earn a place in Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad.

Stokes has been on the fringes of the squad since Martin O’Neill took over as manager, and has not represented his country since starting in the 4-1 friendly win over USA in November 2014.

And with the 27-year-old striker leaving Celtic and dropping down a division for a loan spell at Hibs, some critics feel the former Sunderland player is unlikely to feature for the Boys in Green this summer.

However, Stokes remains optimistic that he can earn a place in the 23-man panel, telling reporters: “Of course I can win my Ireland place back. It’s down to me to put in the performances that will take me there and work on my fitness to get it back up to 100%.

I need to kick on and do my talking on the pitch. I don’t see any reason why I can’t win my place back.

“I haven’t spoken to Martin in the last while and there’s been no assurances. I just want to go out, perform and get my fitness levels up. I haven’t played consistently for five or six months now so I just want to get back into things.”

Stokes also revealed he had a couple of offers from other clubs but chose Hibs — the club he scored 22 goals in 40 apperances for during a brief stint in 2009 — owing to a “gut feeling”. He also remains hopeful that he can ultimately win his place back in the Celtic side.

My future is still at Celtic… There is an option there for me to go back and I’ve got another year left on my contract.

“That is my plan. I had a brief conversation with Peter (Lawwell) and I told him in no uncertain terms I want to go back at the end of the season.

“My relationship with the gaffer is absolutely fine. There has been no issue in the background. I haven’t really had a look in this season but it is what it is.

“It’s easy to start saying things on Twitter but that was down to frustration. I apologised for it, I retracted it. There’s nothing I can do now other than move on.”

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Paul Fennessy

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