Football - Lennon hails Hooper

Neil Lennon insists there is more to come from Gary Hooper after his red-hot striker grabbed a double in Celtic's 4-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Ross County at Parkhead.

PA Sport

The former Scunthorpe striker has been prolific since signing from the north Lincolnshire club in 2010 for £2.4million and, after skipper Scott Brown had fired the home side into the lead a minute into the second half, he popped up with two headers from close-range to take his overall SPL tally to 51.

The Celtic manager's day was complete when he watched winger James Forrest make a scoring return as a substitute after recovering from a hamstring injury that had kept him out since the end of October.

The Northern Irishman, though, continues to be impressed by his number one striker who he is hoping will sign a new contract.

Lennon said: "I fancied him to score but his all-round game was top class and I think he will only get better.

"He is an intelligent player. There are things you can't coach and one thing I've always liked about him since the day I saw him is his football intelligence.

"He can drop off into spaces or he can play on the shoulder of people and he has that natural knack of scoring goals, he scored two headers which is another thing he is adding to his game.

"I don't know what he has got for the season. It might be 15 or 16 so again we are getting a great return of goals but it is what he brings to the team with his all-round play."

On the subject of a new contract for Hooper, an issue which has been subject of seemingly endless discussion for weeks, Lennon said: "I haven't spoken to his agent but the soundbites I am getting from Gary is that he delighted with things and happy to stay here."

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