Hooper delight at call up
Celtic's Gary Hooper has expressed his delight at being handed his maiden England Under-21 call-up.
Last Updated: 16/03/11 8:48am
Celtic's Gary Hooper has expressed his delight at being handed his maiden England Under-21 call-up for their upcoming double header.
The former Scunthorpe and Southend marksman has been in blistering SPL form this season with 13 goals plundered in just 17 league starts.
Hooper is now hoping to impress in England Under-21s upcoming games against Denmark and Iceland in a bid to further enhance his chances of winning a full cap.
The 23-year-old believes playing for Scottish giants Celtic has helped raise his profile and he admits the club is even bigger than he thought it was.
Hooper had the option of joining promoted Blackpool last summer, although he wanted to be at a club challenging for honours and he is happy with the choice he made.
"I could have joined other clubs in the summer but when I heard Celtic were interested my mind was made up," said Hooper.
"I reckoned I knew how big a club it was but when I arrived I realised it was even bigger than I thought.
"There were a couple of Premier League clubs interested, Blackpool for one, but they aren't going to challenge for the title are they?
"Celtic are challenging for the championship and are still in two cups and that's what I want. I didn't want to go anywhere else.
"I feel I'm a better striker now than I was when I arrived at Celtic. I feel sharper, the training is sharper and I have more creative players around me making goals.
"The gaffer here has been great. He told me, 'Just play like you did at Scunthorpe and put the ball in the back of the net. You do it in training so just do it in the games'. He didn't talk to me about England when I first signed, he just said, 'Score goals and we'll be at the top of the league'. But a few weeks ago he said I'd be looking good for England.
"Can I earn a full England cap while playing in the SPL? I don't know, I haven't thought about it. I'm just thinking about doing well in these next few games and I'll take it from there."
Meanwhile, Hooper does not believe manager Neil Lennon will walk away from the SPL leaders over the aggravation suffered for his touchline antics.
Lennon has been snubbing the media since his touchline confrontation with Ally McCoist in their Scottish Cup replay win over Rangers, actions that earned him an automatic four-match touchline ban due to a previous misconduct charge.
"He comes in, does what he does and nobody speaks about what has been happening, it is left to the side," he continued.
"It is understandable (speculation about Lennon leaving) but I can't see him leaving."