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Stokes could still have Celtic future after loan

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic assistant manager John Collins has revealed Anthony Stokes will go out on loan but insists his career at the club is not necessarily over.

The Republic of Ireland forward has been frozen out of manager Ronny Deila's plans this season - he has played only twice - and was recently suspended for two weeks for tweeting his dissatisfaction at being left out of the squad after travelling to Inverness.

Caley Thistle manager John Hughes, who bossed the 27-year-old at Falkirk and Hibernian, has enquired about the possibility of teaming up with the player again.

Collins, speaking ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Stranraer at Stair Park tomorrow, claimed several clubs are interested in Stokes. He also confirmed 23-year-old Romanian right-back Andrei Peteleu of Petrolul Ploiesti and 17-year-old Norwegian midfielder Kristoffer Ajer of IK Start are on trial at Lennoxtown, and that former Parkhead midfielder Aiden McGeady would not be returning to the Hoops from Everton.

Asked if allowing Stokes to leave on loan signalled the end of his career at Parkhead, Collins said: "It signals it for the rest of this season if he goes on loan.

"But you never know in football. The door is always open. The manager and Anthony have decided it would be good for him to get some game time.

"There has been a relationship with those two (Hughes and Stokes) before, so it might be a good place for Anthony to go.

"There are other teams interested as well but we won't force him to go where he doesn't want to go, it will be his choice. He has to go away, score goals and play well, that is what football is about."

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