Scottish outlet STV Sport reported on Monday that Celtic are lining up a training stint for Toronto FC striker Bright Dike, suggesting that TFC are moving forward with their plan to use offseason training deals in Europe as a mechanism to prepare a number of the team’s young players for 2014.
Back in August, Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen spoke openly of his desire to utilize his contacts in the United Kingdom to send his team's youngsters to European clubs over the course of the MLS offseason, with Canadian international Jonathan Osorio mentioned by name as one candidate to head across the pond.
While Toronto FC have indicated to MLSsoccer.com that no deal between TFC and Celtic regarding an agreement for Dike to train with Celtic has been put in place, an offseason sojourn would make sense for the 26-year-old Nigerian international on a number of levels.
Given that Dike made just seven appearances for Toronto during the 2013 MLS campaign due to the fact that he only returned to match fitness in August following an ACL injury, the athletic forward could likely benefit significantly from top-level training and training matches over the winter.
Nelsen has been vocal in stating that he wants to send his players to clubs that will match their style of soccer. Time spent with the storied Hoops would likely benefit a physical striker such as Dike, who should be right at home mixing it up with players accustomed to the rough-and-tumble norm in the Scottish Premiership.
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Dike recently scored his first goal for his country in Nigeria’s 2-2 draw with Italy at Craven Cottage on Nov. 18, and may find himself in a battle for minutes at Toronto FC next year given the club’s stated goal of acquiring two Designated Player strikers.