Hooper injury blow for Celtic

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The Independent Football

Celtic striker Gary Hooper has not broken his leg but he could still face six weeks on the sidelines.

A scan today allayed fears Hooper had suffered a broken fibula during last night's 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock, but ankle ligament damage could keep him out until February.

A statement on Celtic's official website read: "Following an MRI scan, the specialist and the Celtic club doctor confirmed that the player could be out for up to six weeks with a severe ankle strain."

Hooper, who has netted 11 goals in 13 games since moving from Scunthorpe in a £2million deal in late July, went off in the 35th minute of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League game after a clash with Killie defender Frazer Wright.

The 22-year-old has already endured a six-week lay-off in his Celtic career after tearing a calf muscle during a pre-season friendly against Blackburn.

And Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged the club's other strikers to step up to the plate again.

Lennon said: "Out of a crisis comes opportunity so it's an opportunity for other players to come in and show me why they're here.

"With (Anthony) Stokes, (Georgios) Samaras and (Daryl) Murphy we can have a bit of variety, with maybe one of the wide men through the middle as well.

"They have got to step forward and start taking responsibility for the goals now that Gary is out."

Stokes has not scored during a five-game spell when Celtic have won just one Clydesdale Bank Premier League game.

And he realises the need to end that barren spell as Celtic prepare to face St Johnstone and Motherwell in consecutive home games before the Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

The former Sunderland and Hibernian forward said: "None of us wants to see Hoops out for a day never mind a few weeks but it happens in football and whoever the gaffer puts in the team is just going to have to step up to the plate and get some goals, because we are badly needing them at the minute.

"Everyone needs to chip in but strikers are paid to put the ball in the net and we have to take the brunt of it when things are going the way they are at the minute."