Chris Sutton: Nadir Ciftci must start first leg

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CHRIS Sutton believes Nadir Ciftci must start tonight against Qarabag as Celtic attempt to take a significant step towards the group stage of the Champions League.

However, the former Parkhead frontman is more concerned that his old team does not concede in order to have a better chance of completing the qualification job in Azerbaijan next week.

Nadir Ciftci: Needs support. Picture: SNS

Nadir Ciftci: Needs support. Picture: SNS

Leigh Griffiths has been in outstanding scoring form with five goals in the last three matches but Ronny Deila started Ciftci in both European matches so far against Icelanders Stjarnan.

Sutton said: “The big debate is who Ronny will start up front. Griffiths is in incredible goal-scoring form but I feel they’ll go for Ciftci.

“Ciftci is similar to the way I used to like to play in terms I felt I needed bodies around me to be effective. He needs that. In the away game at Stjarnan he needed Stefan Johansen getting close to him so he could be more effective. I really like Griffiths. He had his own problems at the start of last season but he’s shown a tremendous attitude. He’s a goalscorer, he’s a front foot player and a finisher. “

Sutton played in the group stage three times for Celtic in his five full seasons, enjoying some amazing nights against Juventus, Barcelona, Milan, Bayern Munich and Porto and he knows the pressure is on Deila to deliver after last season’s disappointment.

Celtic were comfortably eliminated by Legia Warsaw then reinstated when the Poles fielded an ineligible player only to be knocked out again by Slovenian champions Maribor.

He said: “Stjarnan weren’t a big test for Celtic as they were so far ahead of them. But this is a major test and this is the toughest part of being a Celtic manager. The key for me is keeping a clean sheet. Obviously it would be good if Celtic can get two or three goals ahead but I think we have to be realistic.”