Striker Stokes backs Celtic's title credentials

29 October 2011 02:47

Anthony Stokes says he is sure of Celtic's title credentials as his side attempt to claw back Rangers' ten point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

The Hoops sit third in the table, a point behind Motherwell, and have a game in hand over both sides ahead of them in the table.

Neil Lennon's side had to come from behind to defeat Hibernian to progress to the semi-finals of the League Cup on Wednesday and host the same side at Parkhead in the league on Saturday.

And Stokes, who scored in Wednesday's win, is confident that their comeback in the cup is evidence Celtic are getting back to top form after a sticky run.

"It's going to be tough, no doubt but I think we are well capable of doing it," the Irish striker said.

"There is so long left in the season and we have a lot of Old Firm games before the end of the season so we can definitely get the points back.

"In my head I am looking at it as a seven-point gap. But we can't look too far ahead. It's 10 points now and we have to focus on going on a good run of form and winning every game because we can't really afford to drop too many points.

"I think the second-half against Hibs was the best we have played this season. It has been slowly coming in the last few weeks, we are all feeling that we are getting back to our best and I think we showed that against Hibs."

Manager Neil Lennon has an extensive injury list for the match with Scott Brown, Emilio Izzaguirre, Glenn Loovens and Charlie Mulgrew all sidelined but has been boosted by the return of defender Thomas Rogne.

The Hoops could find themselves even further behind before they take to the pitch at Parkhead if Rangers can continue their remarkable away form with a win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The Gers have won their past 13 away fixtures, a run stretching back to last season, and have conceded just one goal along the way.

And manager Ally McCoist says the whole team deserve credit for their winning run as they prepare for what is a traditionally tough trip to Aberdeen.

"It's a remarkable run that all the players are on in terms of their defending because they all take great pride in it, not just the goalkeeper and the defence. It's an overall team thing," McCoist said.

"I think the basis of a lot of good teams is sound defences and sound goalkeeping and we have certainly had that on the road. Long may it continue.

"I'm loathe to talk about it in case we tempt fate. We've got a very difficult away fixture coming up but up until now we have been very pleased."

McCoist will have almost a full squad to pick from but Kyle Bartley is still recovering from a knee injury.

Elsewhere, Hearts will hope to reclaim fourth spot as they take on Kilmarnock at Tynecastle.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle face a tough task in their attempt to get off the bottom of the SPL as they host second-placed Motherwell.

Under pressure Dundee United boss Peter Houston takes his side to East End Park to take on Dunfermline and managerless St Johnstone welcome St Mirren to McDiarmid Park.



Aberdeen v Rangers, Celtic v Hibernian, Dunfermline v Dundee United, Hearts v Kilmarnock, Inverness CT v Motherwell, St Johnstone v St Mirren

Source: AFP