Stokes: Hoops will miss Izaguirre

Striker Anthony Stokes insists the Celtic squad is strong enough to cope with the loss of last season’s player of the year, Emilio Izaguirre, who is facing between four and six months on the sidelines.

Striker Anthony Stokes insists the Celtic squad is strong enough to cope with the loss of last season’s player of the year, Emilio Izaguirre, who is facing between four and six months on the sidelines.

The Honduran left-back suffered a broken right ankle during the 1-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie yesterday and was told last night he requires surgery which will put him out for at least four months.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon confirmed he was contemplating buying another left-back but Charlie Mulgrew stepped in well against his former club and Mark Wilson, who is expected to return from a groin injury against Dundee United on Saturday, can also play there.

With Cha Du-ri and Adam Matthews, who started against the Dons, competing for the right-back spot, Stokes is sure Celtic will adapt.

“He’s a top player. I think he cleaned up with every award last year and that says enough about his ability,” said the Irishman, who scored the only goal of the game in the 74th minute.

“We’re going to miss him but the good thing is we have a big squad with plenty of other players who are ready to step in and take his place.”

Lennon immediately feared the worst when Izaguirre failed to get up following a clean sliding challenge from Peter Pawlett early in the game.

But Stokes said: “I don’t think most of the lads realised it was that bad until after the game.

“It’s terrible but it’s just one of these things that can happen in football.

“I thought early on there were two or three hard tackles going in. It’s always likely to happen especially on a greasy surface like that.”

Stokes ended Celtic’s frustration when he exchanged passes with Kris Commons and swept home from 10 yards after the winger had cleanly won the ball from Richard Foster.

Celtic had struggled to expose the Dons defence and, although Lennon claimed they had over elaborated in the final third, the home side packed their defence well.

Stokes said: “We didn’t create too many clear-cut chances but I was just glad I got on the end of the pass from Kris.

“It was a great cutback and an easy enough finish for me in the end. You just have to be patient in those games. We played football and got the goal.

“I think Aberdeen played well. We had to play around them because there wasn’t much space. There were a lot of long-range efforts as well.

“It was frustrating because they kept it tight, but we got the breakthrough.”

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