Hoops can fly higher than the Canaries

WHEN I look at Gary Hooper I see a player who has improved immensely during his time at Celtic.

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Initially, I thought he was a fantastic finisher, but some other areas of his game needed work.

This season, though, he has become a far more rounded player. He is not longer just a poacher. He leads the line well, brings others into play.

It is no surprise that Norwich City, who have had two bids rejected, are interested in landing the Englishman.

But I think Hooper is better than Norwich. He should be looking to move to one of the more prominent clubs in the Barclay Premier League.

For me, he is every bit as good as Nikica Jelavic, the Croatian hit-man Rangers sold to Everton last January.

He should not be looking to move to a club in the lower reaches of the English top flight. He should be looking higher than a mid-table club.

I have enormous respect for Chris Hughton and the job he has done at Carrow Road. But I think Hooper can do better.

I think Hooper being linked with Norwich underlines that the days of the leading players from Scotland going to the top clubs in England are well in the past now.

Look at the eminent stars from this country who have moved south in recent years. Very few have gone to a high level.

Steven Fletcher is probably the best example of a Scottish player who has flourished.

However, even he had to go down and serve an apprenticeship at a smaller club, Burnley, before he moved to Wolves and now Sunderland.

Charlie Adam, Gary Caldwell, Shaun Maloney, James McArthur, James McCarthy, Steven Naismith, Robert Snodgrass and Steven Whittaker are all playing in the Barclays Premier League.

All of them are doing well. But none of them is really playing for one of the top clubs. Of course, Darren Fletcher represents Manchester United, but is, once again, sidelined with his bowel condition.

Even the foreign players to make the move, the likes of Carlos Cuellar and Stilyan Petrov, have not made the kind of impact they did in the SPL.

I think there is a definite caution about signing prominent players from Scotland in England now. But we are not the only country that is true of.

Many people scoffed when Liverpool signed Luis Suarez a few years ago. He had scored a lot of goals in the Netherlands.

But the feeling was that was no guarantee he would cut it in England. Well, no matter what your opinion of Suarez is, he is one of the top strikers down there.

I think the fact we do not have an especially prominent player in England just now is down to the fact a special talent has not come through here in recent years.

But I know for a fact that there is quite a buzz about James Forrest among the top English managers.

They are monitoring how he progresses. If he continues to prosper then I am sure some interesting offers will be forthcoming.


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