Celtic: Gary Hooper will force England's hand, says Neil Lennon

Hooper is disappointed to have just missed out on England recognition
Hooper is disappointed to have just missed out on England recognition

Celtic manager Neil Lennon thinks Gary Hooper will force Roy Hodgson to give the striker an England call-up if he continues his fine form.

Lennon said Hooper's performance against Spartak Moscow was one of the best he has seen from a Celtic striker away from home in European competition.

But the 24-year-old still did not make manager Hodgson's latest squad.

"If he keeps playing the way he is, it's going to be impossible for him not to be picked," said Lennon.

"I haven't spoken to him, but I'm sure he will be disappointed.

"But, like everything else, patience is a great virtue."

Hooper scored one of the goals as Celtic won their first-ever Champions League group game away from home, beating Spartak 3-2.

And Lennon placed his performance up along those of Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton in years past.

"He can't do any more," said Lennon of the player who attracted interest from Southampton last season.

"His performance is one of the best performances I've seen from a striker for Celtic away in Europe and I include Henrik and Chris and all the other top players we've had.

"He was marvellous. He led the line brilliantly, his touch was fantastic, his awareness, his pace and we know he is a great finisher and he's putting it all together consistently."

Celtic did manage to get one of their English contingent recognised by Hodgson, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster earning his first call-up to the international squad.

Forster moved to Celtic on a permanent transfer from Newcastle United during the summer after two loan spells in Glasgow.

"I am sure there have been people in his ear over the summer saying you won't progress if you go to Scottish football," said Lennon.

"When Joe Ledley was coming here, people were saying he was going to the wrong Premier League.

"I am sure there were other people when Gary was coming up here who were saying that, if you want international recognition, don't go to Scotland.

"What we are trying to do is change that mindset and performances like that in Moscow the other night will have done that."