TIMES TALKER: Can Celtic afford to sell Hooper now?

YES says RONNIE CULLY

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Gary Hooper fires home his second goal during Celtic's 4-1 victory against Hearts
Gary Hooper fires home his second goal during Celtic's 4-1 victory against Hearts

WHILE Gary Hooper's 20 goals this season are a tangible reminder of his value to Neil Lennon's side, selling him in this window would not bring their campaign crashing down around their ears.

The SPL title – the one priority from the outset – is all-but in the bag. This weekend they face St Mirren in the League Cup semi-final, and, even without Hoops, would be odds-on to get through.

There is little to frighten them lurking in the latter stages of the Scottish Cup. So, a Treble could be on, though retaining the championship is what really matters.

That leaves the Champions League, where Hooper's quality would be missed most, should he be sold in this window.

But, let's be honest, with or without their leading scorer, does anyone seriously expect Celtic to emerge from Wembley on May 25 holding Europe's top prize?

NO says ALISON McCONNELL

IN all honesty, there is little that will trouble Celtic in the SPL between now and the end of the season.

Neil Lennon's side could afford to be sloppy in the opening half of the campaign and still open up a sizeable chasm between themselves and the chasing pack.

But there are two reasons why Neil Lennon will want to resist any offers for his top striker at this junction of the season – the Champions League and the possibility of a domestic Treble.

There are only two other Celtic managers who have won a Treble with Celtic – Jock Stein and Martin O'Neill. And Celtic have never progressed further than the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League.

If they are to have any chance of fulfilling both of these ambitions, then keeping Hooper is necessary.

As Lennon himself pointed out, strikers sell for premium rates. And whatever they allow to go out the door, they really must replace, either now or in the summer.

It makes little sense to allow the player to go at this stage.

Sport

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