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No Afobe, no problem – Bristol City’s woes would end by signing this promising 31-year-old to lead the line

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Gary Hooper

Why Bristol City should offer Gary Hooper an escape route

According to The Scottish Sun, Bristol City are interested in signing former Celtic striker Gary Hooper, who is currently a free agent following his release from fellow Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the previous campaign. 

The Robins are currently on the lookout for an out-and-out striker to replace Stoke City loanee, Benik Afobe, who is expected to be out for large quarters of the ongoing season after suffering a long-term injury. 

The 26-year-old made an immediate impact at Aston Gate following his temporary move from the bet365 Stadium in the summer, starting each of the Robins’ first five league fixtures and scoring three goals in the process, including a brace in the 3-1 victory over Hull City towards the end of August. 

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The Robins are apparently not willing to wait until January to sign a replacement and links with Gary Hooper suggest that they are keen to dip into the pool of free-agents in a bid to plug a gaping hole in their attack at the earliest. 

However, the report suggests that the 31-year-old’s demands could scupper chances of a deal at Ashton Gate.

The Robins are prepared to offer him terms only until the end of the current season but Hooper is hoping to have the option of a further year included in the agreement, while his previous wages of £30,000-a-week at Hillsborough could also be a problem for Bristol City. 

Hooper, who was snapped up from Scunthorpe United by Celtic boss Neil Lennon during his first managerial stint at Parkhead, bagged a staggering 82 goals in 138 appearances for the Hoops and propelled the club to two domestic titles during his three-year stay north of the border. 

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The 31-year-old enjoyed decent spells at Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday following his return to English football but his career is clearly on the decline now. Hooper has struggled with injuries over the past twelve months and made only 6 appearances for the Owls in the Championship in the previous campaign. 

To put things into perspective, Gary Hooper might only be a shadow of his former devastating self but Bristol City should not hesitate to offer him a short-term contract, not only as a replacement for Afobe but also to add some valuable experience to their attacking ranks. 

The likes of Andreas Weimann, Famara Diedhiou, Kasey Palmer, as well as youngster Antoine Semenyo, are more than capable of delivering the goods in the final third but someone like Hooper would ensure the right kind of balance in the squad in terms of genuine goalscoring options. 

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Afobe’s absence might not have come back to haunt them just yet but Johnson could find himself short of options when the injuries start to creep in later on in the campaign and, with Matty Taylor also out on loan at Oxford United, Gary Hooper would definitely be a welcome addition. 

All in all, Hooper might not be in his prime any longer but his availability on a free transfer certainly makes him worth a punt for the Robins.