Lennon riled by Hooper rumours

Gary Hooper

Neil Lennon reached the end of his tether last night with regards to ongoing speculation and discussion about the future of Gary Hooper.

Before Celtic’s 4-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Dundee United at Parkhead – where the former Scunthorpe striker scored a double to take his tally for the season to 22 – the Northern Irishman confirmed to BBC Radio Scotland that Hooper had turned down a contract offer.

He also revealed that the club had turned down another offer from Norwich after rejecting a bid, reported to be around £5m, for the 24-year-old last week.

After the game Lennon was further quizzed about the Englishman, who has 18 months left on his current deal, and confirmed that the offer to Hooper would be coming off the table on February 1.

However, the former Celtic skipper was clearly fed up with the topic.

He said: “Norwich came in with an improved offer, if you can call it that. It was rejected immediately.

“In terms of his contract offer, that has been on the table since October.

“There has been no improvement on that offer but we feel it is a very good offer.

“I am pretty confident that on the 1st of February Gary will be a Celtic player, which is what we all want.

“I am annoyed that the rejection of the contract has come out in the last couple of days when it has been the status quo for the last three months.

“But I am not going to take any more questions on that unless the position changes. I think I have made our position pretty clear.”

Further goals from midfielder Victor Wanyama and substitute Scott Brown completed a good night for the champions and Lennon was especially pleased to see Anthony Stokes come on as a second-half substitute, making his first appearance since last August after recovering from an ankle injury.

He said: “I am pleased for him. He has worked very hard.

“He has missed out on some big nights but we gave him an hour the other night (in the reserve team) and we wanted to get him up to speed so once we got the third goal, it was a great opportunity to give him some game time.

“He is a very important player and has been since we signed him.

“He always brings you goals and his return is very welcome.”

United winger Gary Mackay-Steven missed a great chance in the early stages when the game was goalless but boss Peter Houston admitted that his side had to get back to 2-1 to have any chance of taking something from the game.

He said: “At half-time I honestly believed that if we got the third goal to make it 2-1 we might have given them a fright and maybe given ourselves a chance, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

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