Celtic striker Stokes: I need to make up for lost time

The 24-year-old forward spent a long period out of action this season with an ankle injury, but is now fit and determined to earn a new contract for the SPL league leaders
Celtic striker Anthony Stokes is ready to put his recent injury nightmares behind him and play his way back into Neil Lennon's team to help guide the Bhoys to another Scottish Premier League title.

The 24-year-old forward netted twice as the league leaders brushed aside Dundee United 6-2 at home to leave themselves a massive 18 points ahead of closest rivals Motherwell.

And while the club may be staring at a Champions League exit after losing 3-0 at home to Serie A leaders Juventus on Tuesday, the striker is keen keep working hard this season in a bid to earn a new contract and fire the side to glory.

"Every player wants as much game time as possible and I'm no different," he told reporters. "But I know I will have to perform in training and when I get my opportunity on the pitch.

"The manager wants me to go out and perform as well as I can but the way I look at it, is that I'm judged on goals and that's what I look back at the end of the season.

"If you are hitting over 20 goals you are having a reasonably good season but it's hard now, coming back from injury and missing so many games, so I just want to score as many as I can before the end of the season."

After missing so much action already this season, Stokes is keen to get back into the fray and prove himself once again - and says the Scottish side will not relent until the final whistle on the last day of the season.

He continued: "We demand it from ourselves to perform in each game and fans want to see us winning every game.

"That's the mentality we go out with every week so we won't be taking our foot off the pedal until the end of the season.

"It's always nice to wrap it up as early as possible but even if we do we are going to be expected to win every game anyway so, whether we sew it up early or not, I don't think it is going to change the mentality of how we go into the games."

On whether Stokes will be handed an extension to his deal which expires in the summer of 2014, manager Neil Lennon said: "It's up to Anthony. If he keeps playing like that it's not a difficult decision.

"I have always liked him and he's an important player."