NORWICH CITY boss Alex Neil insists former Celtic striker Gary Hooper remains part of his first team plans.

The Carrow Road.side have bid for Wolves striker Benik Afobe and are also interested in Stoke City frontman Jonathan Walters.

Hooper has been linked with a loan return to the Hoops after quitting the club in a £5million deal in July 2013.

However, Neil said: “As far as I am concerned, there is no interest in Gary Hooper. There has been a lot of speculation in the media, but until anything is concrete then we won’t be commenting on it.

“In fact, we won’t be commenting on anything concerning any players, whether they are going or staying, because ultimately the ones we want to bring in are not our players.”

Neil took a similar stance over Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who spent last season on loan at St Etienne having scored just once in his first season at the East Anglian outfit.

Ironically, the Dutchman, who cost £8.5million when he signed from Sporting Lisbon at the same time as Hooper, was linked with the SPFL champions after scoring a hat-trick for Utrecht in a 4-0 win against them in August 2010.

The club-record signing returned at the start of pre-season and, despite not being involved in either squad for the opening league games, ex-Hamilton gaffer Neil has backed the Holland international to come good.

Neil said: “Ricky understands his situation. I have sat down and had a chat with him on a good few occasions.

“He trains with the first team every day and he played in the Under-21s to get some minutes under his belt. We have not had the discussion whereby his agent needs to get him a move.

“His task is to get himself into the first team. He is training hard and trying to do that and scored in the development game against Leicester on Monday.”


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