ANTHONY STOKES is heading for the Celtic exit – as CQN Magazine predicted earlier this month.
The Republic of Ireland striker was summoned to a meeting with boss Ronny Deila and assistant John Collins on Tuesday and informed he was no longer part of their long-term plans.
The 27-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, was axed from the squad that defeated Qarabag 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League third qualifying round at Parkhead in midweek.
Deila has already moved on frontline flops Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde this summer and Stokes, signed for £1million from Hibs by ex-gaffer Neil Lennon in August 2010, is certain to join them. Tony Watt, goal hero against Barcelona, took the same route a year ago.
Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and Wigan are interested in Stokes, who is rated in the £1.5million bracket despite slipping down the pecking order behind Nadir Ciftci, signed for £1.3million from Dundee United at the start of the month, and born-again hitman Leigh Griffiths.
Deila was quizzed on Thursday on the absence of Stokes from his substitutes’ bench against Qarabag.
The Hoops manager answered: “Anthony was left out because we found others better, so he has to fight to get back into the team again.
“I should hope he’s not happy as everyone should be angry if they don’t play, but we’re a team with teamwork and you get what you deserve from how you play in training and matches.”
The SPFL champions are still in the market for another marksman, but Deila has denied reports in the Belgian media he is ready to sign Club Brugge striker Tom De Sutter should a passage to the Champions League group stages be secured.
He has admitted, however, that he wants to reduce the size of his first team squad to make room for academy players.
Adam Matthews has already left in a £2million deal for Sunderland, Dutchman Derk Boeriggter is surplus to requirements and, like Stokes, is another certain to leave if a suitable bid comes in.