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Lennon at ease with club dealings

NEIL LENNON yesterday revealed he was "comfortable" with Celtic's business in the January transfer window and felt it left them in a strong position entering the latter part of the season.

Norwich City had to finally admit defeat in their attempts to prise Gary Hooper away from the Scottish champions after having four bids turned down, a sign, the manager felt, of the club's sure financial footing.

"I am delighted that we've kept all the players here and that we've kept them together through the window because it's not an easy thing to do sometimes," said Lennon. "I am pleased that we are in a position where we can say 'no', which maybe at other times in the recent past we might not have been able to. It's a statement, and a sign that the club has progressed so well. We are very sound and very robust financially, and we have good assets on the field. It has taken a bit of time to generate that but we are in a strong position now."

Lennon now hopes Hooper will sign Celtic's offer of an extended deal. The club had previously stated that the improved terms would come off the table at the end of the window had Hooper not signed by then but Lennon revealed that the same offer still stands.

"I will need to speak to Peter [Lawwell, Celtic chief executive] about it but the contract is still there.

"Whether he wants to go in the summer, if the money is there in front of you [from Celtic], then take it."

Lennon also revealed there had been no agitating on Hooper's part to get away and the striker told him at the recent training camp in Marbella he wanted to stay.

NEIL LENNON yesterday revealed he was "comfortable" with Celtic's business in the January transfer window and felt it left them in a strong position entering the latter part of the season.

Norwich City had to finally admit defeat in their attempts to prise Gary Hooper away from the Scottish champions after having four bids turned down, a sign, the manager felt, of the club's sure financial footing.

"I am delighted that we've kept all the players here and that we've kept them together through the window because it's not an easy thing to do sometimes," said Lennon. "I am pleased that we are in a position where we can say 'no', which maybe at other times in the recent past we might not have been able to. It's a statement, and a sign that the club has progressed so well. We are very sound and very robust financially, and we have good assets on the field. It has taken a bit of time to generate that but we are in a strong position now."

Lennon now hopes Hooper will sign Celtic's offer of an extended deal. The club had previously stated that the improved terms would come off the table at the end of the window had Hooper not signed by then but Lennon revealed that the same offer still stands.

"I will need to speak to Peter [Lawwell, Celtic chief executive] about it but the contract is still there.

"Whether he wants to go in the summer, if the money is there in front of you [from Celtic], then take it."

Lennon also revealed there had been no agitating on Hooper's part to get away and the striker told him at the recent training camp in Marbella he wanted to stay. "I had a chat with him and he said 'I want to stay and play in the Champions League, win the SPL title, and try to win everything domestically'. Knowing Gary as I do, I don't want to stop his progression but we feel he has a lot to achieve before he moves on."

Lennon had hoped to partner Hooper with Kevin Doyle but a loan move from Wolverhampton Wanderers could not be agreed.

"Kevin knows all about the club but he wants to commit himself to Wolves for the time being. So we didn't get great encouragement in that one, certainly not from Wolves. We totally respect that."

Lennon also confirmed that Georgios Samaras is already a doubt for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Juventus. The Greek went off injured in Wednesday night's victory over Kilmarnock after sustaining a hamstring tear.

There was better news, as Emilio Izaguirre's hamstring strain is not as serious.

"It's a minor tear [with Samaras] but we're hoping to be aggressive with his rehab and get him fit for Juventus," added Lennon. "It's the same with Emilio although we think he has a slightly bigger chance than Sammy.

"We'll see how Sammy progresses in the next week or so. It would be a huge blow for us and the player [if Samaras missed the Champions League tie] as his contribution has been huge. The medical team are not confident, but hopeful we might get him over the line," said Lennon.

Celtic have taken Kenji Gorre, son of Dean, the Scottish Football Association youth coach, on trial following his release by Manchester United.

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