Striker given opportunity to impress at Dundee United

Trialist Nadir Ciftci (centre) training with the rest of the Dundee United squad.

Dundee United trialist Nadir Ciftci hopes to resurrect his career at Tannadice after being cruelly robbed of his international dream.

Back in November 2010, the frontman was catching the eye of Turkey boss Guus Hiddink while he was playing his club football with Portsmouth in England.

He was called up for the friendly between the Turks, whom he qualifies to play for through his parents, and the land of his birth, the Netherlands.

The then teenager had even been told he could expect to make his debut in the match that the Dutch went on to win 1-0.

However, a mix-up that saw his passport details being sent to officials at the English FA in London instead of to Turkish officials in Holland put paid to that opportunity.

One man who was paying attention to Ciftci’s predicament and who has followed his career since was Hiddink’s assistant manager at the time, former Celtic striker Pierre van Hooijdonk.

The player has been on Van Hooijdonk’s radar ever since. He is not Ciftci’s agent but it was Van Hooijdonk who recommended him to his former Parkhead pal and current United manager Jackie McNamara.

Both Van Hooijdonk and Ciftci were at the Tangerines’ training base in St Andrews for the first day of pre-season and the former explained how the latter is looking for a break having suffered heartbreak in the past.

“I know Nadir from when I was working as an assistant to Guus Hiddink at Turkey,” said Van Hooijdonk.

“We checked out his passport and we had to be early and get in there before he decided to play for another country, with Nadir also being eligible for the Dutch team.

“He was going to make his debut for Turkey against, ironically, Holland but it fell through because he was at Portsmouth at the time and they sent his passport to London instead of Holland.

“That meant he missed out on the friendly game. He didn’t extend his contract at Portsmouth so they put him into the Turkish under-19s instead of the first team.

“He then moved to Turkey but that was a bad move as he joined Kayserispor but they didn’t pay him. He went back to Holland to join NAC Breda and after three months the coach was sacked.

“So he has been unlucky but he is still a very good player. I think he is well suited to the Scottish game so I mentioned him to Jackie and now he will have a look at him.

“He could survive in Scottish football no bother. A lot of players from Holland couldn’t because they are simply not strong enough but he is a strong guy.

“He is just 21 but he’s much stronger than your average player at that age. He is also quick, has good skill and can score goals.”

Ciftci was joined by other new faces as the Tangerines got back to work with a bang. Former Rangers pair Kris Boyd and Danny Wilson weren’t there but the United gaffer did confirm that the Tangerines had spoken to both players.

Wilson is staying at Hearts after the new Scottish Professional Football League extended his registration rather unexpectedly while Ciftci’s arrival means the interest in Boyd has been dropped.

Irish left-back Graham Carey will have a chance to win a deal after leaving St Mirren in the summer. Also, McNamara is keen on former Tottenham youth duo Calum Butcher, 22, and Kudus Oyenuga, 20.

Both served their apprenticeships with Spurs but latterly have been turning out for Hayes and Yeading in the Conference. Butcher is a central defender, while Oyenuga is a front player who joined St Johnstone on loan for a spell last year.

The Tangerines are also understood to be looking at goalkeeper Lee Camp, who has been capped nine times by Northern Ireland and counts Norwich, Derby, Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest among his former clubs.

As well as the trialists, it was the first official day at work with United for Chris Erskine, Paul Paton, Brian Graham, Andrew Robertson and Aidan Connolly.

“There are a lot of things still happening player-wise and hopefully by the end of this week we will have the right ones in,” said McNamara.

United travel to the continent this weekend for their first pre-season game against Union Berlin on Sunday, before subsequent matches against Energie Cottbus, also in Germany, and CF Cordoba in Spain.

McNamara hopes to give comeback duo Sean Dillon, who has been appointed club captain, and John Rankin some game time during their fortnight away but Gavin Gunning will not be so lucky.

Rory Boulding and Marcus Tornstrand have left the club after their contracts ended.