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Celtic's Lennon plays down Stokes controversy

Celtic boss Neil Lennon insists he is remaining calm regarding striker Anthony Stokes.

The Republic of Ireland international will be asked to explain why he was snapped signing in a bar on the Falls Road in Belfast last week.

Stokes has already been warned about his apparent association with the IRA which came into the public eye when he attended the funeral of Real IRA member Alan Ryan in late 2012.

But Lennon is not too worried about the latest episode as Stokes is merely a normal male who went out and was simply photographed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I have not spoken to Anthony, he is going to speak with the club today about it and I will be guided by what they think is best," said Lennon.

"It is not a major deal for me. Sometimes I think these stories are blown way out of proportion. They are not bad boys and people try to make them out to be something that they are not.

"They are a bit loose sometimes but I like that in their personalities, as long as we can channel it in the right directions."

The seeming controversy comes as Hoops ace Leigh Griffiths remains under investigation for alleged racism in the form of a chant directed at Heart of Midlothian great Rudi Skacel.

Griffiths was with Hibernian supporters when he was videotaped in a pub singing in a derogatory manner towards their Edinburgh rivals but Lennon feels his players have not done much wrong.

"I will wait and see what the police investigation brings and we will deal with it accordingly, regarding Leigh," he added.

"I don't think Anthony has done a lot either. There is a code of conduct that they have to adhere to and that will come with experience and maturity.

"They are both playing very well but I am not using that as an excuse not to punish them, obviously if I feel the need to punish them then I will."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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