Hooper proves his worth again as Celtic maintain commanding lead
Celtic 4 Hearts 1: Joe Ledley is not surprised about the growing speculation surrounding the future of Gary Hooper but hopes his Celtic team-mate resists the temptation to try pastures new.
After watching his English striker grab a double in the 4-1 Premier League win over Hearts at Parkhead on Saturday to take his tally to 20 for the season, Celtic boss Neil Lennon reiterated that Hooper will not be moving anywhere unless the price is right.
The Celtic boss has already rejected an offer, reported to be about €6 million, from Norwich, but is bracing himself for the Canaries to make another bid before the transfer window closes.
“Gary is one of our main players, he links up play and scores goals so hopefully we can keep him. Everyone will want to sign him because of what he has done but hopefully he is happy and will stay here for a long time.”
It looked ominous for Hearts when Hooper opened the scoring from an Adam Matthews cross in the second minute.Georgios Samaras added a second 10 minutes later but after Jason Holt pulled a goal back in the 68th minute there was a nervy spell for the home side which ended when Hooper grabbed the hosts’ third goal five minutes from time.
Substitute Lassad Nouioui, on for Matthews, made it four in added time to maintain Celtic’s nine-point lead over Inverness at the top of the table.
Hearts manager John McGlynn is hoping his young players will not be affected too much by the result.
He said: “Young players can be resilient, they can bounce back and that is what we want to do because we have a big Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final next week against Inverness.”