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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Lennon keen to hold onto ‘important’ Stokes, Doyle no closer to arriving

The Dubliner may have turned down a new contract but Celtic will do everything they can to keep him.

Stokes training in Dublin yesterday.
Stokes training in Dublin yesterday.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

ANTHONY STOKES CAN fill the void left by Gary Hooper, according to Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Hooper, who scored 31 goals for the SPL champions last season, departed for the Premier League after Norwich City splashed out on the 25-year-old earlier this month.

Stokes missed a large part of last season with an ankle injury but scored two goals in the league opener against Ross County last weekend.

Despite rejecting the initial offer of a new deal, Lennon is hopeful of holding onto the Dubliner. Speaking ahead of today’s clash with Liverpool at Lansdowne Roads, he said:

“We made him an offer and he turned it down. We are hoping to go back to him again because he’s an important player. Obviously with the loss of Gary Hooper to Norwich, Anthony becomes more prominent within the squad. He started off the league campaign very well.

“He’s a talented player and has waded in with a lot of important goals over the last three seasons since I’ve been here.

Being out for four or five months, I’m hoping for a big season from him. Looking at the Champions League  run  made him realise what he had in front of him. He worked hard in the gym, came back and finished the season really well.”

Lennon and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers taking questions in Dublin yesterday. Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

Celtic have also been targeting another Irish striker, Kevin Doyle, since last January but haven’t yet been able to agree a price with Wolves – now playing in League One after two consecutive relegations.

“He’s a player that we tried to get in in January,” Lennon said. “The situation has changed because that was then and this is now. He’s a player that we have admired for a long time but is obviously contracted to Wolves. We have expressed an interest in the player but that’s as far as it has gone so far.”

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Ben Blake

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