Anthony Stokes stopped being a Hibs player as soon as the final whistle blew at the end of his two-goal contribution to Saturday’s Scottish Cup win for Hibs over Rangers.
Naturally, he was allowed to partake in the celebrations. But that he is no longer at Hibs is all he can say for certain as he contemplates what has changed, if anything, after his four-month loan period at Easter Road from Celtic.
Stokes has welcomed the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as new Celtic manager and hopes to be given the chance to impress someone synonymous with stylish football. The striker certainly did his best to catch the new manager’s eye 24 hours after Rodgers was appointed by scoring a fine double against Rangers at Hampden.
“It looks like I am going back [to Celtic],” said Stokes. “I haven’t actually spoken to anyone. But my contract with Hibs was until the last game.”
He hopes he might be Rodgers’ kind of player. “Swansea, Liverpool, you look at his style of play,” he said. “It is attacking, entertaining football. I am sure the Celtic fans are delighted. As for the calibre of manager he is, the quality of clubs he has been at shows that.
“I am sure everyone involved at the club, particularly the fans, are very excited.”
Stokes can’t have been too unhappy to hear the news of Ronny Deila’s departure. He complains about having been played out of position at left wing under the Norwegian.
“The first season under Deila I thought I did all right,” he said. “I had plenty of assists and scored ten goals playing mainly on the left.
“I was happy enough, but it just came down to the fact we didn’t see eye to eye. That is the truth of the matter and everybody knows that. I had no issue with him whatsoever.
“He was always very straight speaking and I respect that with people. I respect people who sit down and tell you as it is.”
It has worked out well for Stokes in any case. He could not have dreamed of a better way to end his second spell at Easter Road than by helping Hibs lift the Scottish Cup with a man-of-the-match performance. It could only have been better had he been called up by Martin O’Neill for Republic of Ireland’s pre-Euro 2016 friendly with the Netherlands tomorrow night.
While the game might not have fitted in with Stokes’ post-cup final party schedule it seems O’Neill had already decided against taking the striker to France in any case. Stokes doubts his cup final heroics have changed anything in that regard.
“I think that boat has passed,” said Stokes. “It has been a difficult season. I didn’t play for four or five months, came here [to Hibs] and took a while to get going. I am just thankful I finished a season on a high.”
He agrees his best chance of appearing at the Euros is if someone pulls out with injury. “If the call comes up, I will be on the flight” he said.
“I am ready. Promotion was the main aim and I was gutted after the Falkirk game. But to end the season like this, it’s a good send-off.”