Celtic target Gary Hooper tipped to be better than Scott McDonald

Celtic fans will see a better version of Scott McDonald when Gary Hooper arrives from Scunthorpe, according to his team-mate Michael O'Connor.

Many believe that letting the prolific McDonald move to Middlesbrough in the January transfer window was one of Tony Mowbray's biggest mistakes during his tenure as Celtic manager.

Mowbray's successor, Neil Lennon, has set about refurbishing the Celtic squad this summer with some zeal, having already signed five new players.

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The Parkhead manager has now revealed that Hooper - appropriately nicknamed Hoops - and Israel midfielder Biram Kayal are next in line, with England goalkeeper David James due in Glasgow for talks today.

O'Connor said Celtic fans were in for a treat should a reported 2 million transfer go through for 22-year-old Hooper, who has scored 50 goals in two seasons. "He is one of the best players I have played with, he is different class," the Northern Ireland international said. "If he goes to Celtic I will put a few quid on him to be top scorer in Scotland next season. I think he will get 25 to 30 goals up there.

"He scored 19 or 20 in the Championship last season even though he missed out on around 16 games. Rob Jones, who used to play for Hibs, thinks along the same lines.

"Hoops is small, stocky, strong, quick off the mark and has a great strike. He is the same build as Scott McDonald but he is a better player, he has a better strike on him. He will score more goals than him."

Midfielder O'Connor added: "Hoops knows I am a Celtic fan and he asked me towards the end of the season about the club. I knew Middlesbrough were interested in him but I said if it was between Celtic and any Championship side then he should go to Celtic.

"He's a quiet lad but once he gets settled in up there and bonds with the players then he will do fine. It's a great move for him and for Celtic."

Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins admitted Hooper was almost certain to move to Celtic after leaving the striker on the bench during their friendly against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. "Obviously I'm aware of the situation that's arising and I didn't want to risk anything," Adkins told his club's website. "The fact of the matter is he hasn't signed for anybody yet and as everyone knows, there are a lot of things to be done before he signs a piece of paper.

"It's fair to say though that a situation has arisen where he will probably end up at another football club."

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On Saturday, Daryl Murphy made a scoring debut for Celtic as a Parkhead XI beat Lincoln City 4-1 to lift the John Reames Memorial Trophy at Sincil Bank Stadium. The home side took the lead in the 16th minute through summer signing Albert Jarrett. Murphy, signed recently from Sunderland, drove in the equaliser from the edge of the box in the 38th minute before Ben Hutchinson made the most of hesitant Imps defending to give the visitors the half-time lead. Two goals in as many minutes midway through the second half from Hutchinson and Simon Ferry completed the scoring.

It was a good afternoon's work for Lennon who handed starts to Murphy, along with youngsters Ritchie Towell and Paul Slane, with six more earning their first appearance from the bench. Former Motherwell striker Paul McGowan had to make an early exit after failing to shrug off a knock. That handed James Keatings a debut appearance in the first-team as he slotted into Slane's position on the right wing.

Daniele Giordano, Declan Gallacher, Filip Twardzick, Sean Fitzharris and Jordan Lowdon also came on to make their first-team debuts.