Celtic boss Neil Lennon tells strikers to step it up

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged the club's strikers to step up a gear after Gary Hooper was ruled out for six weeks with ankle ligament damage.

Hooper suffered the injury during an innocuous-looking tussle with Frazer Wright during the 1-1 SPL draw against Kilmarnock on Tuesday night.

The 22-year-old has netted 11 goals in 13 games since moving from Scunthorpe in a 2million deal in late July.

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But the Bhoys coped well when the Essex-born frontman endured a six-week lay-off earlier this year after tearing a calf muscle during a pre-season friendly against Blackburn.

And Lennon feels he has enough versatility up front without his favoured striker.

"Out of a crisis comes opportunity so it's an opportunity for other players to come in and show me why they're here.

"With (Anthony] Stokes, (Georgios] Samaras and (Daryl] Murphy we can have a bit of variety, with maybe one of the wide men through the middle as well. They have got to step forward and start taking responsibility for the goals now that Gary is out."

Stokes has not scored during a five-game spell when Celtic have won just one Clydesdale Bank Premier League game.

And he realises the need to end that barren spell as Celtic prepare to face St Johnstone and Motherwell in consecutive home games before the Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

The former Sunderland and Hibernian forward said: "None of us wants to see Hoops out for a day, never mind a few weeks, but whoever the gaffer puts in is just going to have to step up to the plate and get some goals, because we are badly needing them at the minute.

"Everyone needs to chip in but strikers are paid to put the ball in the net."