Anthony Ralston could be set for his big Celtic chance

By David Walton

July 4, 2019

Anthony Ralston’s chance to make an impression could be made up for him next week.

The Celtic right-back has been in amongst it in pre-season over the last eight days. He’s featured for Neil Lennon in the matches against Pinkafeld, Wiener SC, and St Gallen respectively. It was his strike that won Celtic a penalty yesterday against the latter that Odsonne Edouard failed to convert.

The St Gallen match is also the last game before Celtic face Sarajevo in the Champions League qualifiers. It’s hardly inconceivable that Lennon was playing as close to his strongest side as possible. That may have very well been the starting XI he has in mind for the trip to Bosnia.

Could Anthony Ralston feature on Tuesday? (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Ralston got 90 minutes against the Swiss Premier League outfit too. And, considering he’s the only current right-back at the club, he seems a cert to start next Tuesday.

And why are we unlikely to bring in a new right-back to play against Sarajevo? Well, the deadline to register our squad for the first qualifying round is today. As it currently stands, no right-back is on the horizon as of yet. UEFA regulations also state that the deadline for the squad to make the second qualifying round is the 18th of July (Page 43). In other words, we need to get a move on.

Anthony Ralston’s chance to make a mark

Ralston is now at an age where he has to start making an impact at Parkhead if he’s to make it here. The youngster is 20-years of age, and ideally, we would start seeing him come into his own at Celtic.

With the departures of Mikael Lustig, Cristian Gamboa, and Jeremy Toljan respectively, Ralston may now have a chance he might never have gotten had any one of those players stayed.

Ralston already has Champions League experience (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

There is an outside chance that Lennon plays without full-backs. A 3-5-2 is always an option. But against unknown opposition such as Sarajevo, you would feel a lot more confident with a flat back four.

And there is simply nobody else in the squad that suits the right-back position more than Ralston right now.

A solid couple of outings from him against the Bosnians and he may get more. But he has to show composure on the ball and an ability to keep Celtic’s attack flowing. As well as that, he has to be positionally aware as well as a threat on the overlap. Being a full-back in a Neil Lennon side is never a simple job, and Ralston will know that by now.

Ralston played in the final Premiership game of last season (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

In an ideal world, Ralston wouldn’t be taking part in this tie at all. But he now surely has yet another chance to make an impression on Lennon. It could also be the reason for him playing in all three pre-season games for the first-team.

With a bit of luck, he takes his opportunity. But, at the end of the day, a new right-back is still an absolute must from the club.