Celtic open contract talks with Hooper

The Bhoys have started negotiations with their star striker in light of reported interest from Southampton after he scored 29 goals last season, including five on the final day

Celtic have opened talks with Gary Hooper over an improved contract.

The striker has been reportedly attracting the attention of Premier League clubs, most notably Southampton with manager Nigel Atkins previously coaching the player at Scunthorpe United.

However, Hooper’s current boss Neil Lennon has revealed that negotiations are under way to tie the 24-year-old down to the club for the foreseeable future..

Lennon told STV: "We had a preliminary meeting with his agent last week and it was very cordial.

"It went very well and we made it clear that we want Gary to stay.

After scoring 29 goals in all competitions last season, uncapped Hooper was an outside tip to make the England Euro 2012 squad but ultimately missed out.

He signed for Celtic in July 2010 for £2.4million after impressing in the lower leagues in England. And Lennon believes that Hooper will stay north of the border rather than returning to his native country.

"Gary likes it here and he's happy here,” he added.

“He's had such a good season and he's such a good player that no doubt there'll be clubs in for him, but we'll try and resist all offers that come our way."