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Treble talk on ice for Celtic ace Hooper

By Ronnie Esplin

Gary Hooper admits it will be difficult to put Sunday's Old Firm Co-operative Insurance Cup final aside to concentrate on the trip to Inverness in the Scottish Cup tonight.

Celtic's quarter-final tie against the Highlanders was postponed on Sunday due to a waterlogged pitch and Neil Lennon's squad have to make the long journey north again to attempt to secure a semi-final against Aberdeen or St Mirren.

However, the first chance to win a trophy as part of a possible domestic treble comes at the weekend.

And asked how difficult it would be to forget the upcoming final against Rangers, Hooper said: “Very difficult. It is going to be in the back of your mind.

“But the main thing is we have to get through (tonight). It will be very tough, especially going there in midweek. We have to play the way we can and go for it, but the treble is not on my mind.”

Celtic boss Lennon, meanwhile, avoided the media again yesterday and has not made himself available for pre and post-match briefings since the controversial Scottish Cup fifth-round replay win over Rangers on March 2.

Lennon was handed an automatic four-match touchline ban due to a previous charge, and Ally McCoist a two-match touchline ban after their confrontation.

Lennon was given 24-hour protection in the wake of the game after a suspicious package addressed to him was intercepted.

However, Hooper has no fears about his manager becoming fed up with all the aggravation.

“He comes in, does what he does and nobody speaks about what has been happening, “ he said. “It is understandable (speculation about Lennon leaving) but I can't see him leaving.”

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