Anthony Stokes believes he can fire himself back into the reckoning for Euro 2016 after returning to Hibernian on loan.
Six months on the sidelines at Celtic left the Irishman fearing his chances of joining Martin O’Neill’s squad for this summer’s European Championship were over.
But now, after agreeing a six-month move to Easter Road, the striker reckons he still has time to convince the Republic boss to take him to France — even if he is playing outside Scotland’s top flight.
The 27-year-old previously spent a season in Edinburgh side after joining the Leith outfit in 2009, when his tally of 24 goals in 48 matches earned him a £1.2m (€1.5m) move to Parkhead.
Now he is hoping to rediscover that form after his frustrating start to the campaign.
Stokes said: “Of course I can win my Ireland place back. It’s down to me to put in the performances that will take me there and work on my fitness to get it back up to 100%.
“I need to kick on and do my talking on the pitch. I don’t see any reason why I can’t win my place back.
“I haven’t spoken to Martin in the last while and there’s been no assurances. I just want to go out, perform and get my fitness levels up. I haven’t played consistently for five or six months now so I just want to get back into things.”
Hibs boss Alan Stubbs fought off interest from Inverness, Dundee United and from clubs down south to land the former Arsenal, Falkirk and Sunderland frontman.
But, with the lure of pipping old adversaries Rangers to the Ladbrokes Championship title on offer, Stokes admits he had just one destination in mind when Hoops manager Ronny Deila opened the door for a loan move.
“I just thought it was the right move for me,” he said. “I was familiar with the surroundings here, I know a lot of the players and it’s a great club.
“I was here for a season a few years back but really enjoyed my time here.
“I’m looking forward to my season and really pushing on.
“There were other offers but I normally get a gut feeling or a hunch on these things and I just thought it was a good opportunity. Hibs have had a good season so far and hopefully we win something.
“I’m here to be competitive and win titles. We’re obviously in the Championship but that makes no difference to me. I just want to help Hibs in any way we can.
“Am I here to stop Rangers winning the league? Well it would be nicer for us to win it.”
Stokes last featured for Ronny Deila’s team in August and was forced to apologise after sending an ill-judged tweet when left in the stands at Inverness last month.
That episode helped earn him a two-week club ban but he has not written off his Hoops career following talks with chief executive Peter Lawwell.
“My future is still at Celtic,” he said. “There is an option there for me to go back and I’ve got another year left on my contract.
“That is my plan. I had a brief conversation with Peter and I told him in no uncertain terms I want to go back at the end of the season.”
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