ANTHONY STOKES has admitted he was surprised that not more Dundee United players were cited by the SFA following the flare-up during the 1-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final stalemate at Tannadice on Sunday.

United have announced that striker Nadir Ciftci will fight a two-match ban for allegedly kicking Celtic skipper Scott Brown on the head, but Stokes also expected Aidan Connolly and Calum Butcher to be offered bans.
Stokes is adamant that Connolly dived to win the penalty awarded against him while Butcher escaped punishment for his clash with Virgil van Dijk, despite Paul Paton being sent off in an apparent case of mistaken identity.SCUP_DUTD_CELTIC_0687

When asked if he was surprised Connolly did not receive a simulation charge, Stokes replied: “I was a bit because I know for a fact I have not touched him. I was going to make a tackle and, from one of the camera angles you can see, I have gone to put my foot in but I have pulled it away. He was already on the way down.

“It’s a strange one for me because there was no contact. I remember a similar incident with myself against Kilmarnock, but the boy has caught me. I might have gone down easily, but I think if you make contact in the box then you run the risk. I didn’t make contact. He has tried to read the tackle and gone down too early.”

Celtic defender Van Dijk will miss Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final against United unless he wins an appeal against his red card on Thursday, but Paton could escape any punishment.

Stokes added: “It seems like a strange one to me. The officials have obviously given the red card to Paton. Fair enough, he is nowhere involved in the situation, but they have obviously misidentified someone so there has to be some breach of the rules somewhere from Dundee United. For me, it’s illogical.

“I think they should clarify what the situation was. They have obviously seen something from one of the Dundee United players that deserves a red card, so surely that should be punished?

“I saw the incident where he (Ciftci) has kicked Scott Brown in the head and for me he would be better off just taking his punishment because it seems quite clear.

“But as for the rest of it, I don’t really know. At the time I genuinely thought two yellow cards and have a word and just let the game go on, because it was pretty petty. The kick-out was the one incident that stood out and something should have been done about that, but that’s in hindsight after seeing it after the game.”

Stokes dismissed suggestions that any bad feeling could spill over into Sunday’s League Cup Final at Hampden between the sides.

He said: “We are just fully focused on ourselves and how we perform. It’s a Cup Final, so there’s going to be an edge in that aspect, but we will be worried about our performance and not getting involved in stupid tit-for-tats.”
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