When discussions arise about potential problem areas that need to be addressed in the Celtic squad, a position that is often brought up is the right-back berth.
Particularly when it comes to conversations around players being of a European calibre, the argument against Anthony Ralston is that he isn’t good enough to play for Celtic, which is extremely harsh.
The 24-year-old will definitely have a part to play this season. Not in a starting role, but not every player needs to be a starter. A player who can do the job to good effect when called upon but is content with waiting in the wings is hard to find. Celtic aren’t going to be able to sign a European calibre full-back as backup and keep them happy at the club. That will always lead to discontent and unhappiness.
Playing his part
So why should Celtic keep a hold of the Scotland international and why will he have his part to play this season?
Recency bias is most definitely playing a factor is some of the recent calls for Ralston’s sale.
Anthony Ralston had a tough season last year and he didn’t cover himself in glory in some of the later fixtures. His campaign was heavily disrupted by injuries which didn’t allow him to build up consistent minutes week in, week out.
Momentum was one of the main factors as to how Ralston turned his Celtic career around in the first place. Even when Josip Juranovic eventually came in and took over that starting berth, minutes from the bench and just being in and around the team allowed Ralston to continue to develop his game and play to the peak of his powers.
Steve Clarke eventually took notice of this and Ralston became a Scotland cap. When you consider the wealth of full-back options Scotland have, that is no mean feat.
With Alistair Johnston being injured until around September, having that starting role to himself for the next few games will be vital in getting Ralston back to his best.
Another massive part of Ralston’s resurgence at Celtic was the confidence and trust bestowed upon him by Ange Postecoglou. He had been a bit-part player, called upon in emergency situations in seasons prior, so when Ange Postecoglou put his faith in Ralston the Scot made sure to repay that faith by turning in good performance after good performance.
A similar trust and confidence boost from Brendan Rodgers could be great for pushing Ralston’s game to its best. Rodgers has a liking for Ralston as seen by the fact that he gave Ralston some of his earliest opportunities at the club as a young player. Rodgers mentioned back in July that “He’s a player who will be really important for us in my time here”
“I love his attitude. He fights every single day and he’ll be a big part of my squad.”
A morale boost and a bit of faith is all Ralston needs to get back to his best and he could do just that this season.