Deila can look to youngsters for Anthony Stokes replacement

Celtic Champions League

Anthony Stokes has come in for a lot of criticism for his recent Celtic performances and it could be time for change ahead of the League Cup final.

Celtic fans reacted angrily to another poor showing from Stokes in the 1-1 draw against Dundee United where he was substituted in the 64th minute, much to his own bemusement.

The Republic of Ireland international has been far from his best this season and with three matches against Dundee United in a row coming up Ronny Deila is unable to call upon ineligible pair Stuart Armstong and Gary Mackay-Steven.

The Scottish League Cup final presents Deila with a big choice to make, give Stokes another chance or look elsewhere in the squad and give a younger player the opportunity to shine at Hampden Park.

Liam Henderson

Henderson has featured for the Bhoys on and off this season making 11 appearances throughout the season. Only three of those have been in the starting line-up with the other eight coming from the bench, but the 18-year-old has a lot to offer.

Deila didn’t use Henderson once in the months of September, October or November but recalled him in December for a Europa League game against Dynamo Zagreb.

The Celtic youngster really hit the headlines in January when he scored a fantastic swivelled goal against Hamilton Academical. Deila trusted the midfielder enough to bring him on in the home leg against Inter Milan, which could be a sign that he is more likely to start than McGregor.

The Scotland Under-16, U-17 and U-19 international would be a handful for the Dundee United defence because he offers pace and skill whilst having the ability to hurt teams with his creativity on and off the ball.

Callum McGregor

The 21-year-old flew out of the traps at the start of the season when he scored the winner against KR Reykjavik in a Champions League qualifying game along with a scintillating performance.

That was followed with goals against Legia Warsaw, St Johnstone and Maribor but the young winger hasn’t featured anywhere near as heavily of late, with his last outing coming in early February against Partick.

If selected he would add pace, skill and work rate to the team with the capability to score goals and create chances for himself and others, as he proved in flashes earlier in the campaign.

Deila may decide to give Stokes another opportunity in the cup final because of the occasion but either of these players would provide excellent alternatives to a player that is clearly struggling to find his form.

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