Gary Hooper will cost Martin O’Neill £10million

SUNDERLAND are the latest club linked with a January move for Celtic hot-shot Gary Hooper – but Martin O'Neill will need to kick off the bidding at £10million.

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Gary Hooper is being linked to Martin's O'Neill's Sunderland
Gary Hooper is being linked to Martin's O'Neill's Sunderland

Hoops boss Neil Lennon remains confident the striker banging on the door of the England squad can continue to ignore speculation and focus fully on firing the Parkhead club into the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Celtic manager is not surprised to hear former boss O'Neill is now among Hooper's admirers. With goalscoring a major problem for the Black Cats, the hitman's prowess, domestically and in Europe, has made him a major target.

Hoops boss Neil Lennon remains confident the striker banging on the door of the England squad can continue to ignore speculation and focus fully on firing the Parkhead club into the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Celtic manager is not surprised to hear former boss O'Neill is now among Hooper's admirers. With goalscoring a major problem for the Black Cats, the hitman's prowess, domestically and in Europe, has made him a major target.

But if anyone wants the Hoops to even consider an offer, they will have to start the bidding at £10m. Even then, Lennon would hope that, having been set to be included in the last England squad until injury forced him to miss out, and having the opportunity to play against the best in the world in the Champions League, would convince the 24-year-old he does not need to head south to realise his dreams.

And Lennon said of Sunderland's interest in Hooper: "That does not surprise me. But we are quite happy with what we have got.

"It will take a big offer, and I think Gary is really happy here and hopefully we can get his contract done."

Lennon could see the relief on Hooper's face when he scored against Hearts, his first goal in three games.

The manager continued: "Gary is class. He had a couple of games where it took him a little while to get back up to speed after injury.

"But he was great on Wednesday night and that performance plus his goal will do him the world of good."

Fraser Forster has already shown what can be achieved by having Celtic as your platform.

And another superb show against Hearts –including a terrific late penalty save – allied to the injury to England No.2 John Ruddy, will have moved the Geordie even further up the pecking order and nearer his first England cap.

Lennon said: "Fraser will only get better. He is one of the best goalies in Britain now. I am sure that in the summer there were people saying to him, don't go to Glasgow because you will go backwards. But he has done the exact opposite."

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