Celtic 4 - 1 Hearts

Match info: Scottish Premier at Celtic Park

Date: 19/01/2013 KO: 15:00 Ref: I Brines

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Celtic

Gary Hooper 2,85
Georgios Samaras 12
Lassad Nouioui 90+1

4
vs
1

Hearts

Jason Holt 69

FT (ht: 2-0)

  • Last Updated: January 19 2013, 20:01 GMT

Neil Lennon claimed Gary Hooper proved once again he is good enough for the Barclays Premier League with a double in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Parkhead, but emphasised the striker would not be moving to Norwich or anyone unless the price was right.

Gary Hooper: Scored two goals for Celtic
Gary Hooper: Scored two goals for Celtic

The Celtic boss confirmed yesterday that the Scottish champions had rejected an offer, reported to be about £5million, from the Canaries for the 24-year-old Englishman, who showed why he is attracting attention from south of the border when he slid in 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 only ended five minutes from time when Hooper grabbed a third to make it 20 for the season.

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 Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Lennon, who is hoping to keep his squad intact for next month's Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus, said: "I thought Gary was brilliant, he was at his best. He got two goals, but I think his all-round game was top class.

"We had a chat last night after speaking to his representatives and we wanted to make our position clear to him and he is quite comfortable with it all.

"We have made it clear that we are not selling him, we don't want him to go, especially at this juncture of the season.

"However, everyone has their price and what Gary's price is will be down to the board and myself to decide.

"What we were offered on Thursday was nowhere near our valuation of the player.

"We don't have a set figure, however, goalscorers are at a premium and Gary is a goalscorer so we will set the bar pretty high for him.

"I am hearing that they (Norwich) might come again but good luck to them on that."

The former Celtic skipper stressed that he would not unnecessarily stand in the way of Hooper moving on to bigger things.

He said: "He is at a big club as it is and he is in the Champions League.

"His ambition possibly is to play in the Premier League and I think he is good enough to do it now, there is no question about that. It just depends on the level he wants to play at and I don't think he is far away from international level as well.

"I mentioned him to (England manager) Roy (Hodgson) last week and he said he is keeping tabs on the two boys (including goalkeeper Fraser Forster) so it's all good.

"I am not going to stop any of the guys' progress because I wouldn't have wanted that done to myself, but I am the manager of the club and they have to do what (chief executive) Peter Lawwell and I think is best for the club's interests and, in the short term, it is keeping Gary Hooper here.

"But we still have two weeks to go of the transfer window and the last week gets pretty heavy.

"I am sure he is on the radar of plenty of clubs."

Lennon, who had the media room in uproar when he answered the mobile phone of one reporter whose wife called during the press conference, revealed he has some injury concerns for Tuesday night's home game against Dundee United.

He said: "Kris Commons had a cartilage problem in between the ribs, he was finding it sore as the game went on.

"Adam Matthews came off with a slight groin strain so we will have to monitor him.

"Fraser has a problem with his neck, it might be a disc problem, we don't know.

"He has been for a scan today but we are waiting on the results of that.

"It is nothing serious but enough to keep him out today and he is maybe a doubt for Tuesday."

Hearts boss John McGlynn was happy that his young side at least stayed in contention after falling behind to two early goals.

He said: "The only positive is that after being two down after 15 minutes, we had the chance to win it with five minutes left, because many teams would come here and possibly crumbled.

"It wasn't the start we wanted, to be a goal down after 90 seconds and certainly not to be two down after 15 minutes.

"It gave us a mountain to climb but at least we stuck together and got a goal back. But the two soft goals that we lost towards the end were easily preventable.

"We had a lot of young players today and it was a hard lesson to learn."

McGlynn was pleased with defender Danny Wilson, 21, who made his debut after joining Hearts on loan for the rest of the season from Liverpool yesterday.

He said: "I thought he acquitted himself very well. He has been playing games and he will certainly be a good acquisition between now and the end of the season."


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