Anthony Stokes last night raised a glass to skipper Scott Brown - and toasted him for leading Celtic to a QTS League Cup triumph against Dundee United at Hampden yesterday.

Brown retained the captain's armband despite being pictured on a midweek drinking session in the lead-up to the game.

But striker Stokes insisted that the Celtic dressing room remained firmly behind the Scotland internationalist.

He said: "Scott had a bit of a joke afterwards with the supporters when we had the cup in the bag, but the thing about Scott is that he is a natural leader. He is a great captain for us. We miss him when he is not there and you tell me - has there been a game for Celtic where he hasn't given 100 per cent?

"It is fair to say that we are a different team with him in it than we are with him out of it.

"His football ability is something that I think is overlooked often. He is full-blooded in the tackle, he is a winner and he plays with so much energy that sometimes people forget he can actually play a bit, too."

And Stokes believes that it would have been crazy to have dropped Brown from the team ahead of the QTS League Cup final.

"He really does drive this team on," he said. "He lifts us, sometimes that is with a tackle that sets the tone in a game or sometimes it is just his manner on the pitch, but I don't think there is any question that he belongs in that team.

"He deserved to go out and lift that cup today. Out of this squad of players this season he is the guy who gets things happening, on and off the pitch."

Stokes himself was satisfied with his own performance at Hampden yesterday afternoon.

The Irish forward set up the opening goal from which Kris Commons scored and he believes that he is acclimatising to the role that Ronny Deila wishes him to play.

"I am happy with my performance. I set up the first goal and the main thing was that the team played well and lifted the cup," he said.

"It can be hard going from playing as an out-and-out striker to playing on the left-hand side.

"I am never going to score 20 goals a season from there, but I do need to show that I can still bring something to the team and I thought I did that today.

"I felt fresher and sharper. I thought I contributed.

"It is massive for the gaffer because it is his first season here. Even for us as players it is big because it breeds confidence.

"We just want to finish the season strongly now. We are in a good position, but we have another game on Wednesday and we need to get our heads ready for that one."