Celtic fend off 6m Southampton bid for Gary Hooper

Celtic boss Lennon fends off Southampton's 6m bid for Hooper

Neil Lennon revealed Celtic have flatly dismissed a second approach from Southampton for Gary Hooper.

And the Parkhead boss warned
interested clubs that it would take a truly exceptional offer to
dislodge any of his title-chasing squad this month.

Saints alive: Bid of 6m for Hooper turned down

Saints alive: Bid of 6m for Hooper turned down

The Championship front-runners first made enquiries about Hooper late last week and have now followed up with a fresh attempt to discuss a deal.

The 15-goal striker worked with Southampton boss Nigel Adkins during his time at Scunthorpe and reports have suggested the south-coast club could be willing to go to 6million in their bid for a reunion.

Lennon, though, is adamant Hooper is going nowhere as Celtic seek to build on their two-point lead at the top of the SPL.

'There has been another enquiry for Hooper this week but the valuation of that club and our valuation is some way off,' said Lennon.

'I've no idea if Southampton will come back in but they will get the same answer that he's not for sale. Goalscorers are priceless.

'If you look at Gary's record in his time here he's got one in about one-and-a-half games.

'He was previously one of the leading goalscorers in the Championship so, when I went out to see him play for Scunthorpe, he stood out like a sore thumb.

'I think it's been good business and he's enjoying life here, and enjoying his football.

'He's like the rest of the players – they want to win the title before they do anything else in their careers.

'That's their immediate focus and motivation.'

Asked if the importance of a first title in four years meant the club should knock back offers for any player this month, Lennon said: 'Yes, I agree with that.

'I don't think we need to sell. If a huge offer came in, I would expect the board to consider it and they do what they feel is best for the club.

'I think that in January especially, if a huge bid did come in, it's difficult to find a replacement if any player was to go – and it would have to be a hell of an offer before we would even consider it.'

The Parkhead boss insisted the club were 'still weighing up their options' in terms of the January priority of a new striker, but hope to make more rapid progress on the goalkeeping front.

Discussions are set to take place with Newcastle United to try to agree a permanent switch for loanee Fraser Forster, while back-up Lukasz Zaluska is close to signing a new deal.

'Lukasz is in negotiations at the minute and his agent is coming in to see the club next week, so I will hope we get him over the line,' said Lennon.

'And I had a chat with Fraser this morning and we would be keen to keep him on if we can do a deal.'

Celtic have had former PSV Eindhoven midfielder Rabiu Ibrahim and Ingolfur Sigurdsson on trial this week, with Lennon set to hold talks with their advisors before deciding on any further move.

Hooper and Kris Commons are set to return to Lennon's squad for today's home match with Dundee United after missing last weekend's Scottish Cup win over Peterhead because of injury.