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Celtic holding out for bigger Hooper bid

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew wants Gary Hooper to stay at the club but believes Norwich should table a more realistic bid if they are serious about tempting the striker south of the border.

Before the Hoops' 4-0 Clydesdale Bank SPL win over Dundee United at Parkhead on Tuesday night — the former Scunthorpe striker scoring his second brace in four days to take his tally for the season to 22 — manager Neil Lennon confirmed Hooper had rejected a contract offer.

He also revealed Celtic had turned down another, barely improved, offer from the Canaries after rejecting a bid last week, reported to be about £5million, for the 24-year-old who has 18 months left on his current deal.

Asked if the Norwich bid was derisory, in light of the money that is swirling around the Barclays Premier League, Mulgrew, previously with Wolves, said: “Of course. We see him day in, day out and we know his quality, what he can do, and you see the goals he scores.

“So, yes, I think he is worth a lot more than that,” he added.

“He is a big player for us and we want to keep everyone.

“There is a good squad here. We all get on well and there is a good team spirit so we don't want to lose anybody.

“Maybe Gary is thriving on it (speculation) but he has been a good player for us all season before the speculation began.

“He is a great player and he's showing that just now. He is a good lad. He doesn't let it get to his head. He gets on with his job.”

Celtic's convincing win over United took them 12 points clear of Inverness at the top of the table and kept the momentum building ahead of next month's Champions League last-16 clash with Italian giants Juventus.

However, in time-honoured way, Mulgrew is taking it one game at a time as he turns his attention to the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against St Mirren at Hampden on Sunday.

The former Aberdeen player said: “I think it is about consistency and the last two performances have been good.

“We kept a clean sheet against Dundee United and scored goals so that is positive.

“We look towards Sunday now. We are not looking as far as Juventus yet,” commented Mulgrew.

“We need to concentrate on doing the job against St Mirren, get the domestic stuff right and deal with Juventus when it comes.”

Further goals from midfielder Victor Wanyama and substitute Scott Brown gave a deserved sheen to the scoreline.

Dundee United’s Gary Mackay-Steven was impressed with Celtic’s firepower.

“When you look at Gary Hooper, (Georgios) Samaras, and people like that, they take chances and it all comes down to goals in the end,” he said.

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