Celtic's game of chance on Gary Hooper

CELTIC are ready to gamble on rejecting bids for Gary Hooper in this transfer window – even if his value drops dramatically as he enters the final year of his contract in the summer.

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Gary Hooper is bang in form for Celtic
Gary Hooper is bang in form for Celtic

Last January, the Hoops knocked back a bid of £7million from Southampton for the striker who cost them only £2.4m when he signed from Scunthorpe in 2010.

This staunch stance was repaid many times over when Hooper helped Celtic book their place in the Group Stage of the Champions League.

Lennon concedes it is a risky strategy, but insisted: "That is a gamble we, as a club, are prepared, to take."

Having banked over £25m for this European run – and with more to come from the last 16 ties against Junventus – the Parkhead club are in an even stronger position to reject offers for the hitman, who claimed his 20th goal of the campaign at the weekend.

Norwich are expected to come back in with an increased bid, having had £5m laughed off the table by Celtic at the end of last week.

But, Hooper's value is worth much, much more to Celtic in terms of helping them retain the SPL title and grab the single Champions League qualification round place available to Scottish clubs for next season.

So, even if the fact the 24-year-old will be in the final year of his contract when the summer window opens, and his value might drop to as little as £2-3m, Celtic will consider it good business.

Lennon has not given up persuading the player to accept the improved and extended contract on the table from the Hoops.

While he respects Hooper may want to test himself in the English Premiership, Lennon does not believe he has to head south to realise his ambitions to get into the reckoning for the England squad.

He would have been in Roy Hodgson's last squad, for the friendly against Sweden, but picked up an injury just before it was announced.

And, after speaking with the England boss at last week's LMA seminar, Lennon has been able to reassure Hooper he is not being overlooked just because he is playing in Scotland.

"Gary is getting the recognition, anyway, that he would probably get at a Norwich, or one of the teams in England," said Lennon.

"I don't think he can do any more. His performance levels have been exceptionally high in the last six or seven weeks. He has taken his game on.

"All the players got a huge lift out of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions league, and none more than Gary. He is playing at a supremely high level now."

If Celtic do get an offer they believe is impossible to reject in this window, Lennon would look to reinvest quickly.

He has already brought in Rami Gershon on loan and Tom Rogic from Australia.

Lennon admitted: "I hope to add more, if we can, but January is always a difficult time to bring players in."

With Fraser Forster undergoing scans on a neck problem which kept him out at the weekend, and No.3 Lubos Kamenar having his loan contract terminated early, another keeper is a priority.

Goalie coach Stevie Woods will be consulted on this, and Lennon said: "I leave that to Woodsie. I trust his judgement. We are looking to bring one in, so he is working on that at the minute."

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