RONNY Deila has dismissed the prospect of Anthony Stokes leaving Celtic next month, insisting the striker has a key role to play in his quest to develop and improve the Scottish champions.
Stokes has been linked this week with a move to Cardiff City as the English Championship outfit look to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window and push for a return to the Premier League.
But Deila stressed there has been no contact so far from the Welsh club with regard to Stokes, who is under contract at Celtic until the summer of 2016, and that any approach would be unwelcome.
“I haven’t heard anything from any other clubs about any of our players,” said Deila. “It is just speculation, like everything else. I think Anthony wants so stay. He is enjoying it at Celtic. I talk to him a lot. He is under contract and we have control of the situation.”
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Stokes scored his seventh goal of the season on Saturday to earn Celtic a 1-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park, once again operating from the advanced, left-sided role in support of a central striker which he has regularly been given by Deila this season. “Anthony has been good for us, playing on the left,” added Deila. “He’s not there yet – he needs to improve more physically. He can run even more and be even sharper.
“But he is an important player for us because he is scoring goals. He is also a very intelligent player. He knows how to link up with the other players as well.
“It is more demanding for him to play out on the left, especially with the way we want to play. There have to be a lot of sprints and he needs to do even more to get his fitness up to the highest level.
“His attitude is very good but he is the same as everyone else – he has things he can improve.
“Everything is possible. You have to show yourself positively in games and in training. But when he plays as striker, he also goes out to the left all the time so I don’t think it is so different for him. I think he really enjoys playing on the left. He has told me that and he has played some very good games there.
“If he is central, he will be in the box more. But you need to be as fit as possible, so you can be defending and also getting into the box. He has the talent to do that, it’s just about working on small things every day to get better.”
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