Bhoys still bank on Hooper

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will continue to utilise the services of star striker Gary Hooper while the future of the club’s top striker remains unresolved.

Hooper returns to the squad for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifier against Cliftonville tonight (kick-off 7:45pm) after recovering from a groin strain.

Many Celtic fans, however, may have thought they had seen the last of the former Scunthorpe player.

QPR remain favourites to sign the 25-year-old after tabling a bid reported to have been increased to around the £5 million mark but as yet, no agreement has been reached with the Scottish champions.

Ahead of the visit of the Irish part-timers, who trail 3-0 from the first leg in Belfast last week, the Celtic boss was asked for an update on the Hooper situation.

He said: “I have no idea to tell you the truth. But for the time being he is still a Celtic player, he is fit now and a great addition to have. You never say never. If things aren’t agreed or go through then he will be here for at least another year.

“I am hoping to speak to him this afternoon. I haven’t had much of a chance to see him in the last week or so. I would like to (convince him to stay) but his mind may be elsewhere.

“This has been going on for the last few weeks but I will make it clear that he is welcome here and we want him to stay.”

On the issue of possible transfers Lennon revealed there were no further developments with regards Nottingham Forest target Kelvin Wilson.

Celtic knocked back a reported £1.5m bid from the English side to take the Hoops defender back to his former club on Friday.

“I am not expecting him to go anywhere,” said Lennon. “He has two years on his contract. There was a bid from Forest on Friday and there is nothing more on that.”

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