Celtic eye swoop for Arsenal's Stokes

December 1, 2006

Celtic chief scout Ray Clarke has confirmed the Parkhead club could launch a bid for Falkirk loan striker Anthony Stokes.

The 18-year-old Arsenal player has scored 12 goals in his last eight games for the Bairns.

Clarke will next week report back to Hoops manager Gordon Strachan on the Irish youngster following his dramatic impact on the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Clarke said: 'What we said to them was that we would watch Anthony Stokes on four or five occasions and then make our decision.

'To be fair to the lad, we've just about done that, and my understanding is we'll maybe have one more good look at him in action.

'Once the Champions League group campaign is over with next week's final match in Copenhagen, we'll sit down on all our activities and the manager will decide the way ahead.'

Strachan praised Stokes earlier this month and revealed his scouts had been watching the free-scoring teenager.

Falkirk manager John Hughes has for weeks been trying to extend the SPL top scorer's loan spell beyond the end of December.

Stokes, who played for the Republic of Ireland B against Scotland this month, has spoken of his ambition to break into the Arsenal first team.

He told Sky Sports yesterday: 'Although the reserves was great and being at Arsenal is brilliant, unless I'm playing first-team football I'm not going to develop.

'I just hope here at Falkirk or somewhere else, that whatever happens in the next year or two, I hope I can develop as much as I can and get a better chance at Arsenal.'

Stokes is suspended for Falkirk's clash with Rangers on Sunday after receiving two bookings during the 4-2 defeat at Motherwell.