CELTIC MANAGER NEIL LENNON insisted on Friday morning he wants Anthony Stokes to remain at Parkhead but wants the striker to sign a new deal.
Stokes is entering his third season at the Scottish club, following his transfer from Hibernian, but is out of contract next summer.
The four-times capped Republic of Ireland international has prospered in the Scottish Premier League after enduring barren spells with Sunderland, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.
Last season he found the net 21 times for Celtic and Lennon wants him to sign a new contract rather than risk him leaving the club on a free transfer next summer.
“I’ve not heard a thing about other clubs being interested,” Lennon told the Daily Express. “He had a great season last year.”
He’s still young, still only 23, even though he’s been around the British game for what seems a lot longer.
“There is scope for him to improve. He’s a goalscorer and I wouldn’t be in too big a hurry to let him go.”
Stokes has returned to Glasgow for pre-season training and Lennon added that he would be sought out for a chat about signing up for a contract extension.
“He’s in the last year of his contract and that’s something we’ll be looking at over the next few weeks once we get back and talk things through,” Lennon said.
“Every player has his price and Anthony would be no different in that regard. But 21 goals last year speaks for itself.”
Lennon also told the club’s official website that the spectre of Rangers possible demotion to the lower echelons of Scottish football should not distract the players and staff at Celtic. He said:
There will be no slacking off or complacency, we have a lot to look forward to and that´s what we are preparing for, but I need to be very clear, we need our fans with us every step of the way.
We cannot let outside negative influences dictate the mood at Celtic, we are very optimistic and we are very much looking forward to the season but we need our fans right with us”