John Hughes says Irish rivalry with Celt Keane can inspire Stokes

JOHN HUGHES today claimed coming face-to-face with countryman Robbie Keane tomorrow will bring out the best in Hibs' Republic of Ireland striker Anthony Stokes.

• POINT: Anthony Stokes

Although Stokes has claimed 20 goals this season for the Easter Road outfit, Hughes believes his star will feel he has a point to prove as he faces Celtic and his country's leading scorer tomorrow.

Stokes found himself drafted into Irish manager Giovanni Trapatonni's squad for last month's glamour friendly against Brazil at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium after Keane pulled out through injury.

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But the Irish captain, who boasts 41 goals in 97 appearances for his country, made a shock recovery and took his place in the side with the 21-year-old Hibs man relegated to the bench.

And Hughes feels that Stokes, now over the throat infection which resulted in him being named among the substitutes for the visit of Dundee United, will be desperate to outshine the on-loan Spurs hitman who has claimed 11 goals in as many games for the Hoops.

Despite feeling under the weather as he took a course of antibiotics, Stokes scored in injury time against United, his third match in succession, and has since been, according to Hughes, "magnificent" in training.

Asked if he felt being on the same pitch as Keane would act as a spur to his player, Hughes said: "I've seen some wonderful things on the training pitch but the most important thing is you take that into the match. You have to use anything at your disposal to be at your best. Whether you want to show people how good you are, if you feel you have something to prove, if you have family in the stand or are perhaps going back to an old club or playing against a player of Keane's quality, anything."

Meanwhile, Hughes revealed he's likely to be missing a number of players with Merouane Zemmama, Paul Hanlon, Alan Gow and Kevin McCann all ruled out while Kevin McBride's ankle is bruised and swollen despite having the six stitches inserted after the Scottish Cup replay against Ross County removed and skipper Chris Hogg continues to battle a back problem.

However, the Hibs boss said: "We'll be a bit light but if you sit in that first team dressing room, picking up the wages you should be good enough not just to play but to the standard we feel is suitable for Hibs."