FORMER Celtic striker Chris Sutton does not believe Gary Hooper has boosted his England chances by quitting Parkhead for Norwich.
Hooper waved goodbye to his team-mates last week when he ended a seven-month pursuit by the Canaries by finally signing for the Barclays Premier League side for an undisclosed fee.
But Sutton admits he has doubts as to whether the 25-year-old, who scored 31 goals for the Scottish champions last season, will have any better a chance of winning a call-up to Roy Hodgson’s squad with Chris Hughton’s men than he would have had with Celtic.
Asked if Hooper’s international prospects had increased with his move south, Sutton – who started his career at Carrow Road – said: “I don’t know – it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. I’m not being disrespectful but Celtic are a bigger club. He won’t get as many chances down there as he would up here. But that’s his choice. He has chosen to go down there. It’s a real good signing for Norwich but I don’t know if it would enhance his England chances or not.”
Hooper became the Canaries’ seventh summer signing after he agreed personal terms and passed a medical on Friday.
Hughton first tried to sign Hooper in January and fought off competition from QPR to finally land the prolific frontman.
Hooper has signed a three-year deal with Norwich, with an option on a further year, but Sutton suggested Hooper may find it harder to find the net as often as he did with Celtic in England’s top flight.
“There is no doubt he can succeed but I think he’ll find it more difficult,” he said.
“Last year, Norwich were not the most overly attack-minded team and Chris Hughton did a good job keeping them in the Premiership. This year it will be a different ball game. They have spent heavily bringing in Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Hooper. So they will be looking for goals from him but he is very efficient and a really good finisher.”
Neil Lennon’s side face another crucial Champions League tie on Wednesday when they host Sweden’s Elfsborg in the third qualifying round first leg at Celtic Park. The biggest dilemma facing the Parkhead manager is which striker he will choose to lead his attack.
Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes, Tony Watt and new signing Amido Balde are all in contention but Sutton believes his former team-mate Lennon will opt to dip into the transfer market soon and sign up a ready-made replacement for last term’s top scorer.
“They are going to miss Hooper, there is no doubt. They will miss his natural goalscoring, as any team would,” said Sutton.
“But it is up to somebody else to step up to the plate. The strikers they have are in a slightly different mould with Samaras, Stokes, Watt and the new lad Balde, who in fairness I haven’t seen and can’t comment on.
“But I suspect Neil will be looking at getting someone in.”