Anthony Stokes: Celtic plan to send striker on loan

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes
Stokes has started just one game for Celtic this season

Celtic assistant manager John Collins says Anthony Stokes will probably go on loan this month.

The forward, 27, has barely played this season and was recently suspended for a breach of club discipline.

Inverness Caley Thistle want to take him north on loan, while Championship side Hibernian have also been linked with their former player.

"I think the preference would be to play in a top league against top defenders," said Collins.

Republic of Ireland international Stokes has featured just twice this season and has not played since August.

While stressing that the player's destination had not yet been decided, Collins added: "Anthony and the manager have decided it would be good for him to go and get some game-time."

Caley Thistle would appear to be favourites to land Stokes, though Collins said a number of clubs were interested.

One factor that might attract him to Inverness is his previous experience of working under manager John Hughes at Falkirk and Hibs.

"They've worked well for each other, with each other in the past so it might be a good place for Anthony to go," acknowledged Collins.

"The player's not going to go somewhere he doesn't want to go and we won't force him, it'll be his choice."

Collins explained that a temporary move would not necessarily signal the end of Stokes's Celtic career, adding that if he went away, played well and scored goals "the door is always open".

"His attitude in training lately has been very good," he said. "Hopefully he's turned the corner, getting himself in better shape but he needs games.

"He's had a few under-21 games for us but that's not enough of a challenge for someone of Stokesy's ability. He needs first-team football."

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