Iron won't play prized asset in friendly

Last updated : 09 July 2010 By Luke Thornhill

Hooper, United's top scorer last season, will not feature in Saturday's pre-season friendly at Bottesford Town to avoid picking up an injury which would prevent a move away from Glanford Park this summer.

The Iron's official website said "leaving him out is to avoid the risk of him getting injured should anything materialise in the transfer market".

The club have repeatedly said that Hooper is not for sale, but an asking price of £2.5million has been widely touted in the national media.

While there has been no confirmation of any bids or contact with interested clubs, this confirms there has been at least informal discussions.

Middlesbrough were believed to be among the frontrunners to sign Hooper, but their interest will have cooled with the signing of striker Kris Boyd from the Scottish Premier League side Rangers.

Celtic, runners-up to Rangers in Scotland last season, have tracked Hooper since last season when Neil Lennon - who was caretaker Hoops manager at the time but has since been appointed to the position on a permanent basis - watched him at Glanford Park.

Leeds United have also been touted as potential suitors, while the Premier League newcomers Blackpool were linked with him on Friday.

The Derby County manager Nigel Cough declared his interest in Hooper towards the end of last season, but that always appeared more of a publicity stunt.

Hooper is not the only member of the Iron's first-team squad who will not play at Birch Park, with new signing Michael Collins missing out.

The midfielder, 24, who signed from Huddersfield Town in the week, has infected blisters.