Nadir Ciftci ban ‘can boost Celtic Euro hopes’

NADIR Ciftci’s six-game domestic suspension could be a boost to Celtic’s European hopes, according to Hoops’ assistant John Collins.

Nadir Ciftci arrives at Glasgow Airport with the Celtic squad ahead of their flight to Iceland. Picture: SNS

The summer signing from Dundee United received an eight-game ban on Monday - two of which are suspended - after being found guilty of biting Jim McAlister during a Dundee derby on the final day of last season.

The 23-year-old Turkish striker will miss Celtic’s six Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures in August but he will remain available for the Parkhead club’s Champions League qualifying campaign after making his debut in their 2-0 first-leg win over Stjarnan in the second qualifying round.

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Former Celtic midfielder Collins, speaking at Glasgow airport before the trip to Iceland for the second-leg against Stjarnan, said: “Obviously he won’t be available for early league games but he will be fresh for European games so for every negative there is a positive.

John Collins believes Ciftci's ban can boost Celtic's European chances. Picture: PA

“It is disappointing for Nadir and ourselves but the decision is made and we just have to move on, we will wait on him coming back.

“It happened with his previous club and we knew that the hearing was yesterday.

“We had to wait on the result, the decision was made and we just have to move on and we all learn from our mistakes and hopefully it won’t happen again.

“We want our players to be competitive but within the rules of the game,

Cifti, pictured here in action against Stjarnan, is free to play in European matches. Picuture: PA

“He will be focused and looking forward to tomorrow’s game, it is in the past, he will take his punishment and learn from it and look forward to playing well in a Celtic jersey.”

After missing out on the Champions League group stages last season, Collins reiterated what qualification will mean to the Scottish champions.

“Everyone knows what the Champions League means, it is the biggest tournament in the world,” he said.

“Coaches, managers, supporters - everyone attached to Celtic Football Club and Scottish football wants to see Celtic progress to the group stages.

“That’s where we want to be, in with the big boys but we have to earn the right to be there.

“It is a good score, we haven’t conceded, we will go there and look to score goals.

“If we lose our concentration and we are slack they will cause us problems but I am comfortable and confident, if everyone is switched on then we will be fine.”

Defender Virgil van Dijk returns after being suspended for the first leg.

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