Lennon hails super Hooper

  • Last Updated: December 23 2012, 13:28 GMT

Neil Lennon insists there is more to come from Gary Hooper after his red-hot striker grabbed a double in Celtic's 4-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Ross County at Parkhead.

Gary Hooper: Double strike against Ross
Gary Hooper: Double strike against Ross

Gary Hooper

14. Gary Hooper

Title Number
Appearances 11 (6)
Goals 5
Assists 2
Yellows 1
Reds 0
*Current Season

The former Scunthorpe striker has been prolific since signing from the north Lincolnshire club in 2010 for £2.4million and, after skipper Scott Brown had fired the home side into the lead a minute into the second half, he popped up with two headers from close range to take his overall SPL tally to 51.

The Celtic manager's day was complete when he watched winger James Forrest making a scoring return as a second-half substitute after recovering from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since the end of October.

The Northern Irishman, though, continues to be impressed by his number one striker whom he is hoping will sign a new contract.

Lennon said: "I fancied him to score but his all-round game was top class and I think he will only get better. He is an intelligent player. There are things you can't coach and one thing I've always liked about him since the day I saw him is his football intelligence.

"He can drop off into spaces or he can play on the shoulder of people and he has that natural knack of scoring goals, he scored two headers which is another thing he is adding to his game.

"I don't know what he has got for the season. It might be 15 or 16 so again we are getting a great return of goals but it is what he brings to the team with his all-round play."

On the subject of a new contract for Hooper, an issue which has been subject of seemingly endless discussion for weeks, Lennon said: "I haven't spoken to his agent but the soundbites I am getting from Gary is that he delighted with things and happy to stay here."

The champions are five points ahead of Inverness with a game in hand and could have the title effectively won before they take on Italian giants Juventus in the last-16 of the Champions League in February and March.

County boss Derek Adams has no such exciting European prospects on the horizon.

He watched his side fail to win for the ninth successive time to leave them six points ahead of bottom side Dundee having played a game more.

However, Adams tried to remain upbeat and will try to take some positives from the first-half where former Celt Rocco Quinn and Alex Cooper both missed good chances to give the visitors the lead.

He said: "I thought we moved the ball well at times, we contained Celtic and frustrated them but we still had opportunities.

"You don't get many opportunities when you go to a venue like Celtic Park but if we don't take them it makes it difficult

"We didn't defend well enough straight after half-time and were 2-0 down after seven minutes of the second-half."

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