Dundee United’s Ryan McGowan is hoping Nadir Ciftci can make a match-winning comeback in tonight’s Scottish Cup replay against Celtic.
The mercurial Turk missed Sunday’s defeat in the League Cup Final against the same opponents through suspension.
However, he was in the thick of the action when the two sides clashed at Tannadice on March 8, and was subsequently cited for “deliberately kicking an opposing player, Scott Brown of Celtic FC, upon the head”.
The 22-year-old striker was cleared of the charge and McGowan insists that while Ciftci plays on the edge, attempting to tame his passion would make the striker a lesser player.
The former Hearts defender said: “It’s a huge boost for us to have Nadir back. He’s the focal point of most of our play and he does really well up front as a lone striker. He can give us an outlet and it’s a boost to have him back for Wednesday.
“If someone told Scott Brown to tone it down then it would change the type of player he is. Nadir plays on the edge and likes winding people up and getting involved, almost distracting the defenders and winning those free-kicks.
“If the senior players feel the need to speak to him then I’m sure they will but I certainly won’t be. I wouldn’t want him any other way. If you take that away from him then you take part of his game away.
“He’s a very good player and a really important player and hopefully he can be a match winner at Parkhead. It’s up to him to be clever and cute enough to work out when is the right time to do or say whatever he wants to.
“There will be other times where he needs to get the head down. He was gutted to miss the League Cup final from being suspended and the compliance officer pulled him up the other week so he has to be careful in some aspects but we don’t want to lose anything from the player he is.
“He is a big-game player and we need all our players to be on top form. For us, he’s a goal scorer and can create chances which was slightly lacking on Sunday. It’s a boost to have him back in such a huge game.
“Nadir should be 100 per cent because he had the weekend off so he can be fully focused.”
Against Celtic at Hampden, McGowan was selected to play in midfield, an area of the pitch where he came up against Hoops skipper Brown.
No quarter was asked or given and McGowan insists it will be the same again tonight.
He added: “Scott Brown is just a winner. He’s a good professional and like a lot of players it’s a great test to come up against someone like him. I’m sure if you ask him he’d say he loves the rough and tumble and flying in and out of tackles.
“It’s all part of the game now. I got booked for a tackle (on Brown) that would have just been a talking to five or six years ago while other tackles were let go. That’s part of football. We love going against people who want to win and have good battles.
“If you went to a Sunday League game you’d have people who like winding up opposing players. It’s part of the game. I enjoy all that side of it and I’m looking forward to doing battle for what seems like the seventh time in two weeks!
“I’ve never played the same team four times in a row, even going back to when I was a kid. But it’s a good test. They’re the best team in Scotland so it’s a good measuring stick on how we can improve.
“It’s the same faces and same tackles and same fans. It’s disappointing for us to have lost on Sunday but the great thing about football is that we’ve got a chance to make amends.
“I wouldn’t say it’s boring but I only came back in January and I don’t play Motherwell at all yet I could play Celtic seven times. Work that one out!
“I think if you asked the Celtic players they’d say the last two games have been very difficult for them. If we can clean a few things up then we can definitely give them a game and we’ve worked hard on playing against them.
“We can take a lot out of our performances against them. The cup final is already out of our system and this is a huge game where we need to be fully focused. We’re disappointed about Sunday but it would be unprofessional if that feeling was still lingering so we learn from it and go again.”