Lennon: Hooper deal a priority

  • Last Updated: May 29 2013, 17:53 BST

Celtic boss Neil Lennon admits his most pressing business this summer will be to persuade Gary Hooper to stay at Parkhead.

Gary Hooper: Celebrates his goals against Hibernian
Gary Hooper: Celebrates his goals against Hibernian

The striker bagged a double in the 3-0 Scottish Cup final win over Hibernian on Sunday to take his tally for the season to 31 goals.

Celtic rejected a number of approaches for the 25-year-old in January but his future is again subject to speculation with the summer transfer window now open.

"He's a master goalscorer, I just thought he was wonderful against Hibs," Lennon said about Hooper.

"He and Anthony Stokes play so well together at times and have really caught the imagination. If Gary needs to go, then he leaves a great legacy, but he'd be one I would be desperate to keep.

"If he wants to go, he'll be really hard to replace, but we'll do everything we can to keep him."

Hooper's scoring rate dipped following the January speculation about his future but Lennon has refuted claims from some critics that he had been distracted by reports of an imminent transfer.

"He does have dips, every player does, but it seems when Gary has a dip, everyone accuses him of wanting away," added Lennon. "It's absolute rubbish.

"I've never had to lift him. You have a wee chat with him now and again. He's a very quiet kid, but he knows what we think of him. He's probably one of the first names on my team sheet."

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