SFA hit Celtic striker Stokes with one-game cup suspension

ANTHONY Stokes has been handed a one-game ban following an incident at the end of Celtic’s 2-1 William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hearts at Hampden on Sunday, the Scottish Football Association have confirmed.

Referee Euan Norris included an “A5” offence by the Celtic striker in his match report, which pertains to “offensive, insulting and/or abusive language and/or gestures”.

Stokes and the Parkhead club were informed by Norris he was to be mentioned in his report at the time, which in effect was a red card.

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The suspension is specific to the Scottish Cup which means the Irishman will miss Celtic’s first tie in next season’s tournament. An SFA spokesman said: “A report has been submitted and the player has been notified of an A5 offence.”

Meanwhile, Ki Sung-yueng looks forward to playing pressure-free football for the first time this season when Celtic travel to Motherwell on Sunday.

After winning the SPL title at Kilmarnock on 7 April, the Parkhead side were brought back down to earth when they were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Hearts.

The South Korean is looking to get back to winning ways at Fir Park and believes the absence of tension, which comes from having already wrapped up the championship, will allow the champions to play with freedom.

“We don’t have any pressure now and I think the players will be more comfortable so maybe we can play with a bit more comfort,” the midfielder told the club’s official website. “It’s never easy in away games but if we are focused on the game we should win it.

“I was very pleased to win the league and become the champions. It was my first-ever league title in my career so it was a huge moment for me and an honour. But we will keep working. The season is not finished. Even though we’re disappointed (about the Hearts game) we still have these games left. We will stick together and keep working just as a champion team should do.”

Manager Neil Lennon will use the remaining games to utilise his squad and blood some of the younger players. Ki believes young players such as Dylan McGeouch, Filip Twardzik and Andre Blackman will benefit from the opportunity.

“I think they deserve a chance to play which will be a great experience for the younger boys,” he said. “They have very good qualities even though they are young, so there is good potential here.”