Friday 26 December 2014

Lennon adamant Hooper will stay

Gavin McCafferty

Published 19/01/2013 | 05:00

Celtic manager Neil Lennon congratulates Gary Hooper on his goal during the Scottish Premier League match at Celtic Park in February 2012

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has told Gary Hooper he is going nowhere this month after the club rejected an offer from Norwich.

Lennon reluctantly confirmed the development after reports emerged in England of a £5m offer from the Premier League club. Hooper has so far resisted persistent attempts by Celtic to extend his contract beyond the end of next season, but the club are in no hurry to cash in on the prolific forward as they chase four trophies, including the Champions League.

Lennon had yet to talk directly to Hooper when he confirmed that the bid had been rejected but made his position clear at the media conference ahead of today's league visit of Hearts.

"Our case is simple – you are not going," Lennon said. "You have got a year-and-a-half on your contract so you're a Celtic player."

Lennon added: "The bid has been rejected. We had discussions with his representatives this morning and we are waiting to hear back from them.

"We are in a good position. We don't want to sell. We feel we have a lot to look forward to in the second half of the season.

"We don't want any of our top players to go and Gary comes into that bracket. I've not spoken to him today because I was with his representatives most of the morning.

"The talks were positive and we made our position pretty clear."

Essex-born Hooper has scored 68 goals in 114 games since joining Celtic in July 2010 and has been tipped for England honours after helping the club into the knockout stages of Europe's elite competition with two well-taken goals against Spartak Moscow.

And Lennon revealed Celtic were not minded to cash in on the 24-year-old, who they bought from Scunthorpe for £2m, despite their failure to tie him down for longer.

"I haven't come to that point yet," he said. "(In the summer) he will only have a year left and he may want to run down his contract. I've not spoken to him about future scenarios. For the time being, we have rejected the deal, I'm annoyed it has come out publicly. I'm annoyed with people down the road letting it come out publicly."

Lennon added that he was "pretty confident" Hooper would be at the club when the transfer window shut.

"It's like everyone else – they all have their price," Lennon added. "But when a transfer comes in way under our valuation then the club is quite right to say no."

Irish Independent

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