CELTIC manager Ronny Deila has urged Nadir Ciftci to learn to control his aggression on the pitch but insists he is also content to see the Turkish striker “playing on the edge”.
Ciftci will miss the first six games of Celtic’s Scottish Premiership title defence as a result of the suspension imposed on him by an SFA disciplinary panel on Monday for biting Jim McAlister on the leg during the Dundee derby at the end of last season. The 23-year-old forward was banned for a total of eight games for the offence with two of them suspended until the end of the season.
It was the fourth notice of complaint served on Ciftci in his two seasons in Scottish football with Dundee United during which he was booked 30 times and sent off once.
But Deila is not concerned by the suspect temperament of the player Celtic signed from the Tannadice club for £1.5 million earlier this month.
Ciftci remains free to play in European matches for the Scottish champions while he serves the domestic ban which keeps him sidelined from Premiership fixtures until the middle of September.
He is in the Celtic squad which arrived in Reykjavik yesterday for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie against Icelandic side Stjarnan tonight.
Deila is confident Ciftci can thrive in Celtic’s bid to reach the group stage of the Champions League over the next few weeks and believes the player will find a way to better manage his on-field conduct.
“When you play football there is a thin line between being aggressive and going over the line,” said Deila.
“Nadir is still young and it’s very important that all the players at Celtic show aggressiveness but it has to be in a fair play way.
“I don’t know (if he’s learned his lesson). We have Scott Brown, Nadir and different other players at the club who are playing on the edge and that’s good. You do learn through experience and I am sure Nadir is learning things about different situations.
“He was always a handful for United when we played against him. This aggression is one of his strengths but it has to be controlled. You can’t take this away from him. That’s how it is. Winners are often playing on the edge and do everything to succeed.
“Now we have to take it situation by situation. He is disappointed right now. We, of course, want him to play football without any suspensions.
“That is part of football. It is something that happened in the past. We just have to keep going on. He can play a lot of games in the Champions League, hopefully, and then I think the situation would be good.
“It’s no problem for him to just play in Europe at first. We will only play one game a week – so that’s good – so he will train well and it’s important for him to get fitter and also he needs to understand the way we play.”
Asked if he regarded the length of suspension imposed on Ciftci as fair, Deila was both non-committal and philosophical.
“I haven’t looked into it,” he added. “I can’t do anything about it anyway so I haven’t used any energy (to look at it). Nadir was a little bit disappointed and now we just have to move on. Did I expect the verdict? Again, I’m not a lawyer. I did not know exactly what was coming but we have to accept the penalty and move on.”
Deila also anticipates no difficulty in managing Ciftci on or off the pitch over the coming weeks and months.
“He has been fantastic so far for Celtic,” added Deila. “He is a very good football player. I’m expecting that will continue.
“Nadir is not a challenge for me. Outside the pitch, he is very nice. On the pitch, he is also good in my opinion.
“I don’t think there will be any problems. The important thing, and I have always said this about players we bring in, is that they have the capacity to learn and they must want to sacrifice everything.
“They also have to have skills and he fills all those boxes. It’s why we wanted him here.”