Football: Celtic are expected to include Gary Hooper in their line-up against St Mirren at lunchtime tomorrow after Neil Lennon sought to quash reports that Liverpool were interested in the striker.
The manager said it was not the case that talks over a contract extension with the 24-year-old had broken down, saying: “I don’t think we are too far away” from concluding a deal to lengthen the former Scunthorpe hit-man’s time in Glasgow.
Celtic make the short journey to Paisley on the back of five straight victories in all competitions. However Lennon will need no reminding that his men, who face the might of Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, have already dropped five points on the road this season.
Neither skipper Scott Brown nor winger James Forrest are likely to be included against St Mirren.
Brown has struggled all season with a hip complaint and lasted only 45 minutes for Scotland against Wales last week, while Forrest missed both his country’s matches with a groin strain. Kris Commons is also rated a doubt for the weekend after tweaking a hamstring on international duty.
The Buddies manager — Lennon’s namesake Danny — is yet to win a point against the SPL champions during his two years in charge.
He will take heart from the fact that his side, currently seventh in the table, have won each of their last four home matches.
Despite the good run of form the manager is not deluding himself about the nature of the fixture against the league leaders. “It’s going to be a big challenge,” he said. “We want to play well. We want to win, we want to entertain.”
Paul McGowan is unable to face his former club. The Buddies striker remains out of action after an operation on a damaged shoulder this month.
Elsewhere Hibernian, in second place, travel to the Highlands to take on Ross County. Dundee United, who have struggled this season will be keen to take points from Aberdeen’s visit to Tannadice. The Dons who are up to third spot will be boosted by the news that 20 year-old midfielder, Jordon Brown, has signed a deal keeping him at the club until 2015.
They also have Niall McGinn, back from his heroics for Northern Ireland in midweek. The winger scored his country’s goal in their 1-1 draw away to Portugal.
Kilmarnock have the chance to overtake St Johnstone in fourth place if they are able to fashion a win in Perth. Hearts play host to Motherwell in Edinburgh on Sunday.
The Jambos’ former winger Rudi Skacel has been training at Tynecastle but indicated that he’s unlikely to re-sign for the club.
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