Striker Anthony Stokes believes a top-four finish in the Premiership is well within the capabilities of the Hibs team Neil Lennon has built this season – and insists he can find the goals to spur the team on as they return to Scotland’s top flight.
The 29-year-old sealed his return to Easter Road for a third spell on Wednesday evening, signing a two-year deal to take Lennon’s summer signing spree to eight – Simon Murray, Danny Swanson, Steven Whittaker, Ofir Marciano, Efe Ambrose, Deivydas Matulevicius and Vykintas Slivka having also joined the Capital outfit.
Hibs supporters need little introduction to the Republic of Ireland internationalist, who has already racked up 71 appearances in a green-and-white jersey across two previous stints in Leith, his biggest contribution coming in May last year when he scored a brace in the 3-2 victory over Rangers at Hampden as Hibs finally ended their Scottish Cup hoodoo which had lasted 144 years.
Having negotiated a release from a three-year contract with now English League One club Blackburn Rovers last month, where he made just 12 appearances, the 29-year-old admitted he wasn’t short of options regarding potential suitors as he took time to ponder his next move. However, the lure of working under Lennon again, a manager he knows inside out from his time with Celtic, plus the opportunity to challenge for further domestic honours, made it an easy decision in the end.
“I need to be consistent, score goals, push for the top four and do as well as we can,” said Stokes, who hopes to be involved as Hibs get their league campaign under way tomorrow when Partick Thistle visit Easter Road. “There has been a winning mentality at this club in the last two years, getting the Scottish Cup and winning the league last season, and the gaffer has that mentality from when he played. He pushes that into the players. He won’t let the standards slip this season.
“I’m just delighted to be back, everything just fits. I know the club inside out, I know all of the players, the manager and the staff. I trained yesterday and it was just so easy to slip back into it and get back to what I do best and enjoy my football again.”