Anthony Stokes ready for English return

Anthony Stokes celebrates after scoring the first goal for Hibernian

HITC Sport understands Championship clubs will battle for Celtic striker, with Birmingham City, Leeds United, Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers leading the chase.

Almost half of the Championship have already registered an interest in signing Irish striker Anthony Stokes, after Celtic made him available on a free transfer.

The 27-year-old fell out with former boss Ronny Deila last season which prompted a loan move back to his former club Hibernian, who he helped to their famous Scottish Cup success.

Anthony Stokes scores the first goal for HibsAnthony Stokes scores the first goal for Hibs

Stokes returned to Celtic at the end of the season and he had hoped he could play himself into new boss Brendan Rodgers's plans, but after talks it has been decided he should move on.

Stokes joined Celtic for £1.2million in 2010 and scored 59 goals from 107 starts for The Bhoys, but now he is free to move on and the former Arsenal and Sunderland man looks set to head back south of the border.

Anthony Stokes celebrates after scoring the first goal for HibernianAnthony Stokes celebrates after scoring the first goal for Hibernian

A source close to the player told HITC Sport: "It has been agreed that he will move on for free, the parting is on good terms and now he is looking forward to finding a new club, and already their is no shortage of interest."

HITC Sport understands that the likes of Birmingham City, Leeds United, Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers are leading the chase but Huddersfield Town, Nottingham Forest, Preston North End, Rotherham United and recently promoted Wigan Athletic are all showing a keen interest.

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