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‘LAY OFF CIFTCI,’ HARTSON

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CELTIC legend John Hartson admits he knows exactly how Nadir Ciftci feels at the moment.
The Turkish striker, bought for £1.3million from Dundee United last month, failed to score against Qarabag after getting the nod from Ronny Deila to start the game ahead of in-form Leigh Griffiths.
And that stretched the 23-year-old’s barren record to seven successive blanks in his appearances for the SPFL champions.
However, Hartson has told the critics to lay off and the Parkhead fans not to panic.
Big John said: “I think I went five or six games without scoring when Martin O’Neill brought me to the club. Mind you, a couple of those appearances were off the subs’ bench.
“It’s a difficult role to play. If you’ve got support and you’re on top during the game, I think it is a good position to be in.
“I did it for 10 years for the Welsh international team, but I had Ryan Giggs on one wing and Craig Bellamy on the other. That helped.
“So, I got great support and good deliveries into the box.
“Yes, you can feel a little isolated up there and against Qarabag it was more of a defensive play from Celtic, particularly in the first-half.
“They had to be cautious and disciplined and they couldn’t allow players to go out of position.
“So, Ciftci was isolated at times, but his effort and commitment were there for all to see.
“He always tried to put his body between the ball and the defender, but the referee didn’t give Celtic anything when there was contact.”
However, Hartson, who scored over 100 goals for the Hoops after joining in a £6million deal from Coventry City in August 2001, wasn’t so kind to Stefan Johansen and James Forrest who both squandered good opportunities to kill the tie late in the game.
He added: “Johansen should have scored when he could have clipped the ball over the keeper with his left foot. He snatched at it a little bit and the chance was gone.
“Forrest had to get a shot in when he was through. The keeper showed him a lot of the goal to his right, but he tried to square it across to Griffiths and it was never on.
“He showed what he could do by cutting through the defence, using his pace and getting into that position and maybe on another day he would  try a shot.”
 
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