Blues boss forced to shelve Ciftci loan plans

Curtis Main. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey striker out for two weeks

Steve Cotterill has been forced to scrap plans to loan out Nadir Ciftci.

But the Blues boss insists a spell away from Fratton Park remains crucial in the youngster's development.

Cotterill has made no secret of his desire to send the promising attacker to another club.

He is convinced it will aid the 18-year-old's game if he can experience regular first-team football in the lower leagues.

But for now, moves to loan Ciftci have had to be put on hold.

With a paper-thin squad, the Blues boss can ill-afford to be without the youngster as he struggles to even fill up a substitutes' bench.

On the flip side, it has hampered Ciftci's progress.

He has played just 14 minutes of first-team football over the last six weeks.

And he has made just one start since August 21, despite being named in every squad.

Meanwhile, the likes of Marlon Pack and Matt Ritchie are prospering from time spent on loan at Cheltenham and Swindon respectively.

Cotterill fully intends to allow Ciftci to follow their lead.

For the time being, though, he has to remain at Fratton Park.

The Pompey boss said: 'Kids are hot and cold and you can see what has happened to Nadir.

'But I cannot send him out on loan at the moment because we cannot afford to do that.

'Maybe if we had a stronger squad that could happen – but not at the minute.

'I want him to go out on loan to the right place because it would help his football education.

'It can benefit them, going out on loan is not a punishment. It can help the careers of young lads.

'When I was at Burnley, I loaned out Kyle Lafferty to Darlington and he came back a 4m player who moved to Rangers.

'Another who benefited was Gary Cahill, who came to me on loan from Aston Villa.

'I gave him his Football League debut and he has gone on to play for England. He hadn't kicked a ball before he came to me.

'Years ago, West Ham loaned Jermain Defoe to Bournemouth, that hardly hindered his career.

'It's all about education. People have got to understand that, even Nadir himself.

'It's not like he can go and play in our reserves at the moment. We haven't got a reserve team.

'He needs games and is not getting them. But I just can't afford to let him go out.'

Cotterill believes Ciftci's lack of match action caused his fitness levels to plummet earlier in the season.

He claims Ritchie also suffered with the same problem, although the midfielder has since gone on to play regularly at Swindon.

With no reserve team, fringe players such as Ciftci have had to rely on the occasional friendly to bolster match fitness.

But so far there have been just three matches, while a scheduled fixture with Eastleigh fell foul of the weather.

Ciftci did impress, however, in a 3-0 win at Farnborough in October, when he bagged two goals.

Regardless, the lack of regular match action remains a concern for Cotterill.

But he insists Ciftci has been working hard in recent weeks to build his fitness levels back up.

He added: 'Nadir's fitness levels went down and, to be fair to him, he has got himself back into better shape.

'He had to do some extra running in training and, to his credit, he has worked very hard.

'It is what happens to young players, it is only to be expected.

'Now Nadir has got some of his fitness back – but nothing can beat match action.'