Neil Lennon doubts Hibernian will be able to afford former Celtic striker

Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon

The new Hibs manager believes a move for newly-released Celtic striker Anthony Stokes may be more than the Edinburgh club can afford.

Anthony Stokes scores the first goal for Hibs

New Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has responded to reports linking the club with move for out-of-contract Celtic striker Anthony Stokes by admitting that he does not believe the forward is an affordable target, as quoted by the Scottish Sun.

Stokes was released by the Bhoys earlier this week after six years with the Scottish giants, but his exit had seemed inevitable since Deila suggested he was not part of his long-term plans for the club at the start of the most recent season.

After making just two appearances in all competitions for the Hoops the 27-year-old was loaned to his former club Hibs in January, and scored nine goals in 25 appearances, including netting a brace in the Scottish Cup final triumph last month.

Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon

Reports have inevitably surfaced that Stokes could re-sign with the Edinburgh club on a permanent basis after leaving Celtic, but new Hibs manager Lennon has cast doubt over that potential move by suggesting that the striker's wages may prove too expensive for the club now that the Bhoys will not be paying a slice.

Lennon said, as quoted by the Scottish Sun: "If I could get him here it would be fantastic but I think that may be beyond us in terms of finances.

"I know the budget is strong. That was never an issue in coming here though. It's the challenge that interests me more.

Anthony Stokes celebrates after scoring the first goal for Hibernian

"I need to now sit down with the players I want to keep. There are players making waves to try and go but I don't want that to happen."

Lennon would undoubtedly be keen for a reunion with the man he signed for Celtic in 2010, with Stokes boasting an excellent goalscoring pedigree in Scotland.

Stokes scored 23 goals in 43 appearances in his only full season for Hibs before moving to Celtic, where he would net 76 times in 191 matches.

The striker is thought to have a number of admirers, with ex-Hibs manager Alan Stubbs reportedly keen to make the striker his first signing since moving to Rotherham United.

Celtic's Anthony Stokes celebrates scoring their third goal

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