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Celtic fear Hooper summer exit

ESPN staff
April 24, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Gary Hooper has played a key role in helping Celtic retain the Scottish Premier League title © PA Photos
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Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell believes there is a possibility that star striker Gary Hooper could stay at the club, despite rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League.

Hooper has been in lethal form throughout the Hoops campaign, and has been an integral part of Neil Lennon's championship winning side.

Norwich City had numerous bids for the striker turned down in the January transfer window and with Premier League interest rife, Lawwell believes it will be a tough task to keep hold of Hooper in the summer.

"We've got plans to talk to him (Hooper), so who knows. It's a work in progress at the moment," Lawwell told Sky Sports News. "We'll just chat. We're close to his family, we're close to Gary and his representatives and obviously we'll have a chat before the end of the season.

"Gary in particular has come here and done very well. He's a top class player and there will be interest elsewhere. At some point the kid has got to look after himself and if the right move comes to him and its right for us, then obviously people will understand that."

Hooper has netted 27 goals for Celtic so far this campaign, including a brace in the 4-1 win over Inverness that saw them retain the title. The 25-year-old joined Celtic in July 2010 following a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United.

And with a chance of a domestic Double when they face Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final on May 26, Lawell has admitted that success can attract attention from both ends of the spectrum.

"One of the side effects of our own success is that people come and quote your players and quote your staff," Lawwell said. "But again, Celtic is a massive club, it's very, very attractive for a lot of people and hopefully we will be able to retain the players that we want.

"But if they do go, then our challenge is to replace those with similar if not better quality."

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