Celtic desperate to remain unbeaten, says Stokes
Edinburgh: Anthony Stokes has become the latest Celtic player to talk up the importance of continuing his side`s 17-game unbeaten start to the Scottish Premiership season.
The Glasgow giants` 1-0 victory over St Johnstone on Thursday sent the Parkhead club 11 points clear at the top of the table from second place Motherwell to leave Neil Lennon`s side firmly on course to retain their title.
The Hoops manager has played down talk of his side remaining unbeaten for the entire season but, ahead of their trip to Inverness on Sunday, Irish striker Stokes said it was what the players were focussing on now their European run had come to an end.
"It is massive. It is something we pride ourselves in," Stokes said of the unbeaten run.
"We have had a great start to the season, the consistency has been tremendous and we want to maintain that.
"We are taking it game by game and we just want to keep it up, winning games is what it is all about. It is demanded at this club and we will keep striving towards that.
"Obviously this year has been a bit disappointing, with Europe, but we want to finish this season on a high and win trophies. At the end of the day, that is what it`s all about."
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk is also keen to keep the unbeaten run going for as long as possible.
His wonder goal clinched victory against St Johnstone and after netting two on his last trip to the Highlands to face Ross County he hopes to add to his tally when they take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
"I´ve never been unbeaten for maybe more than two games so this is new for me as well," van Dijk said.
"I like winning so hopefully we can keep it going. I`m expecting another battle against Inverness, definitely. It´s a long trip as well so you have to be ready for the game.
"I hope I can add to my tally up there. I love scoring -- I think it´s what everybody loves."
Celtic have no fresh injury worries for the trip north with Derk Boerrigter, Mikael Lustig, Beram Kayal and Steven Mouyokolo all out while Charlie Mulgrew remains a doubt.
Elsewhere, Dundee United will hope to get back to winning ways following a surprise defeat to St Mirren when they travel to take on St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, second place Motherwell are away to Partick Thistle and Aberdeen host Ross County.
Bottom club Hearts, who were started the season on minus 15 points as a punishment for entering administration, look set to start the new year still in negative figures unless they get a win away to St Mirren.
Fixtures (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated)
Inverness CT v Celtic (1230), St Johnstone v Dundee Utd (1400), Aberdeen v Ross County, Hibernian v Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle v Motherwell, St Mirren v Hearts