Anthony Stokes knows that no matter how well he plays at Kilmarnock tonight it still might not be enough to guarantee him a place in Sunday’s Old Firm game at Ibrox.
The former Hibernian striker started in the first game this season against Rangers at Parkhead but has had to settle for a place on the bench in the following five meetings between the Glasgow giants.
Stokes has notched 19 goals so far this season – one for Hibs – but is hoping to make amends for Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden, where he missed a couple of good chances and a penalty in the first half before the Hoops eventually cruised to a 4-0 win to set up a final place against Motherwell.
However, the Republic of Ireland player knows that regardless of how he performs tonight he will still be unsure of a place in Sunday’s crunch game in Govan.
“It obviously won’t do me any harm if we play well and I put in a good performance,” said Stokes.
“But I have found out during the season, probably the hard way, that I have been playing well and scoring goals and then left out.
“It comes down to the gaffer at the end of the day but all I can do is just focus on my performances and training and hope that is enough.
“Nine times out of 10 I would probably have had two or three goals on Saturday. You have those games every now and again.
“Myself and Gary Hooper had a chat about it after the game and we just knew it was one of those days that it wouldn’t go in for us, but it won’t affect us.
“I actually thought I played well after missing the penalty, I set up one or two goals. You have to try to not let it affect your confidence and I think I did that.”
Stokes could have further competition for a place as Celtic manager Neil Lennon confirmed that 28-year-old Italian striker Gianvito Plasmati from Serie A side Catania is on a week’s trial.
“He’s a good size and he’s technically good and intelligent,” Lennon said. “He’s short physically because he has not played for a long time but we understand that and we will have a good look at him over the course of a week.
“We might bring him back when he is fitter and have a better look at him then.”
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola has warned Celtic that his team will go into the game without fear.
“I think they have all the pressure and we can be more relaxed and just try to get a good result from that game and from the rest of the games to come,” the Finland international said.