Lennon hopes European run will persuade star due to stay
Published 07/12/2012 | 12:15
CELTIC manager Neil Lennon hopes their progression to the last-16 of the Champions League can help persuade Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama to extend their contracts.
The pair's representatives have been in negotiations with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell for several months and Lennon is optimistic that his side's win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday will ensure they are still at Parkhead beyond the January transfer window.
Lennon said: "Why would they want to leave now when they have got something special to look forward to?
"Not many clubs can offer that.
"Gary's representatives are coming up over the weekend. We're hoping we can finally get something done on a positive note. Hopefully. There is no guarantee.
"With Victor we will keep plugging away with his representatives as well and see if we can come to a conclusion that pleases everybody."
Lennon has not discussed his January budget with Lawwell in the wake of his side's qualification for the lucrative knockout stages, but does not expect his plans to change dramatically.
"I wouldn't envisage spending a lot of money," said Lennon, who dismissed reports in the Italian press that he had been tracking World Cup-winning striker Vincenzo Iaquinta.
"I don't think I need to. I'm pretty happy with the squad we have got.
"We won the game without Wanyama, we have basically been without James Forrest for most of the campaign. He is not far away and Stokesy (Anthony Stokes) will be fit by mid-January.
"So we are getting two really good attacking players back in.
"There are areas we would like to enhance the squad and we have been working on that for quite a while."
Meanwhile, Lennon confirmed captain Scott Brown was unlikely to have hip surgery this month.
The midfielder has been playing through the pain barrier this season and Lennon had previously hoped he could have an operation after the Spartak game to allow him to recover for the first leg of the last-16 in mid-February.
"He's feeling good and remarkably again had a great game for us the other night," Lennon said.
"He doesn't want to have the surgery so we are going to manage him the best we can.
"We can't force him to have surgery, although eventually our medical team thinks he will require it.
"It's not like we are soft-soaping him through training now, he is training all the time.
"He has obviously had a positive reaction from the last injection and we will just keep going. We need to chat about it. If and when the surgery is required we will need to plan the period he is going to be out, because we would like him for the last-16.
"I don't think he would (miss the last-16) if he had it now. It's an eight-week period of rehab.
"I haven't really had a chance to speak to him or my medical team but he wants to keep on playing.
"But we don't want to put him through what we put him through the last two months."
Lennon revealed Kris Commons and Mikael Lustig would miss tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Kilmarnock after going off injured against Spartak, but both could return the following week.