Paul Hanlon set for battle with Anthony Stokes

Anthony Stokes: Scoring for fun. Picture: Getty
Anthony Stokes: Scoring for fun. Picture: Getty
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Hibs defender Paul Hanlon reckons former team-mate Anthony Stokes is in the form of his life – but is relishing his battle with the Celtic striker.

Hanlon is anticipating a difficult afternoon when the Scottish champions make the lunchtime trip to Easter Road on Saturday.

Stokes earned a move to the Hoops in summer 2010 after netting 22 goals at Hibs during the previous campaign and the five-goal Republic of Ireland forward is displaying a similar ruthlessness this termr.

Hanlon said: “I’m looking forward to it. If I’m selected, it will be good to go up against Stokesy.

“I’ve come up against him a few times since he left and I obviously used to train with him every day when he was at Hibs, so I know how good he can be on his day.

“Recently his form has gone to the next level. Since Hooper has left, he has taken it upon himself to be the main man and he’s shown what a good player he is.

“There is a lot of responsibility on him to score the goals for Celtic this season and he’s living up to that and showing his best form at the moment.

“I was a bit younger when he was here and it was good going up against him in training. He’s got plenty of experience and it was good training with him.

“He’s got great ability and can score goals from anywhere. I know exactly what he’s got and hopefully that can stand me in good stead for the weekend.”

A recent run of four wins from six Premiership outings has lifted Hibs into the top half of league.

Manager Pat Fenlon has described the current squad as the best he has worked with since he has been at the club and Hanlon knows the visit of Neil Lennon’s side will be a chance to see how far they have come.

Hanlon added: “A lot of people have said we have a good squad but I still think the best is still to come from us.

“We’ve had some good results this season but we’ve not produced the complete performance yet. Hopefully that kicks in soon.

“There is always big expectation at Hibs and we know consistency is going to be the key. If you can get that, you have a right good chance of being at the top of the league.”