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'We don't need motivation . . . we need points'

Ryan Conroy knew Gary Hooper was destined for stardom the first minute he set eyes on him at Parkhead, but still hopes he has a blank Boxing Day.

Hooper, who hit a brace in Celtic's demolition of Ross County at the weekend, has been a key man in their run to the last 16 of the Champions League and will roll up on Tayside tonight with Conroy knowing full well they will have to somehow find a way to put the shackles on Celtic's goal king.

Conroy said: "I played with Scott Brown and know Charlie Mulgrew from growing up at Celtic. But the likes of Gary Hooper had arrived at Celtic before I left, so I was training with these guys.

"You could tell straight away that he was class. He'd scored a lot of goals in England and you could see he was a fantastic finisher. If he's doing it in the Champions League then there's no doubt he's worth a shout for England.

"He's still only 25 or something. There are teams around Europe looking at him because of his scoring record. But Celtic have loads of quality players, so while we'll have to stop him, we can't focus on one person too much."

Conroy added: "Celtic's players will be looking forward to the Juventus game but they know that it's still a while away and until then they've got to focus on the league. They maybe got distracted when the group stages were on but now they have sorted that out and have been winning games.

"You don't get any easy games against Celtic and just now they have really picked up and are flying. But we don't need any motivation. We're at home and we're desperate to pick up the points. We'll focus on what we're going to do and hopefully take something from the game."

Bottom-dogs Dundee went down 4-1 to Inverness last Saturday but midfielder Conroy inists they'll forget all about that in a bid to make amends against the Parkhead side. He said: "It was a disappointing day in Inverness, but these things happen and we just have to put it to the back of our minds and get on with the job."

Fellow midfielder Nicky Riley also came through the Celtic youth ranks. He left Celtic in 2010, but the 26-year-old is finally making his mark in the top flight with Dundee.

Riley scored his second goal of the season with a good touch and finish in Saturday's defeat by Inverness and has impressed in recent weeks after shaking off the injury problem that denied him a pre-season.

"There are a few boys in our team who were on Celtic's books when they were younger," he said. "I'm sure they will be in the same boat as me, just looking forward to playing against them. There is no added motivation, it's just a game I'm looking forward to. These are the games you want to play in."

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