CELTIC will travel to Belfast for their Champions League qualifier with Cliftonville without Gary Hooper, it has been confirmed.
Parkhead assistant manager Johann Mjallby revealed the striker was suffering from a groin strain, which had kept him out of Celtic’s pre-season tour of Germany and added that the club had received an improved bid for Hooper from QPR.
Neil Lennon said last week: “[Gary] has not featured much in pre-season and the games start in earnest for us on Wednesday night.”
“So he’d have a bit of catching up to do and I don’t know where his mind is at the minute,” Lennon added.
QPR submit improved bid
QPR boss Harry Redknapp has submitted a £4.5 million bid for the wantaway striker, just hours after Norwich City threatened to pull out of a deal taking the Englishman to Carrow Road.
The 25-year-old is said to be keen on joining the English Premier League side, but could be tempted by the Championship club’s offer that would see him return home to London.
Norwich and QPR offered £4 million for the forward last week - with Redknapp matching the Canaries’ offer - and the Norfolk club set a 5pm deadline on Monday for Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell to accept their offer.
However, Redknapp’s 11th-hour bid could force Norwich to extend their deadline - and with the QPR bid offering a higher transfer fee plus add-ons if the London club secure a return to the English top flight, Lawwell could be tempted to hold off accepting any bid from Carrow Road, according to the Daily Record.
Hooper, who has netted 82 goals for Celtic, was signed in 2010 from Scunthorpe for £2.4 million and has just one year remaining on his current deal.
Parkhead boss Neil Lennon admitted at the weekend he thought Hooper had played his last game for Celtic.
Read more on the Gary Hooper transfer saga