Neil Lennon backs Anthony Stokes for Ireland recall

Anthony Stokes
Stokes is in training for Wednesday's Scottish League Cup tie against Hibs

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has backed Anthony Stokes for a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of their Euro 2012 play-off.

Giovanni Trapattoni's team face Estonia over two legs in November and West Brom striker Shane Long is a likely absentee after a weekend injury.

And Stokes has been tipped to be included in the squad.

"He is showing great maturity and he's shown he can do it at the higher level," said Lennon.

The 23-year-old was praised for his performance in last week's Europa League draw away to Rennes and then in the weekend win at home to Aberdeen.

"He has been excellent," said Lennon. "If you look at his performance, I thought he was superb.

"He just needs to get some consistency in his domestic form."

Stokes has been a more regular starter in Celtic's European games because of an injury to Georgios Samaras, while he has been shouldering more responsibility with Gary Hooper struggling to recapture last season's form.

"We're very pleased with him and, with the absence of Samaras and Hooper, he's really made his mark this season," said Lennon.

Asked whether he thought Stokes, who has scored five goals this season, was ready to add to his four international caps, the Celtic boss admitted that he faces stiff competition from Long, West Brom team-mate Simon Cox and Wolves' Kevin Doyle.

"I think he's got the talent," added Lennon.

"But, if you look at Doyle and Long, and Cox has done well, I don't think he's far off it."