With the right-back speculation picking up again, it’s important not to forget about Anthony Ralston.
The Hoops defender is one of a growing list of academy graduates in recent years. But despite recently returning to the first-team, he’s in danger of dropping down once again.
That’s because Mikael Lustig will be here until at least the end of the season as well as, hopefully, an upgrade on him. Competition will be higher than it’s been all season, and Ralston will be back on the outside looking in.
Yet, the right-back deserves the chance to add to his three appearances this season. He remains one of the brightest prospects to have come through Lennoxtown in years, and is now at an age where he has to be getting first-team exposure.
Celtic are of course looking at Omar Elabdellaoui of Olympiakos. If he comes in for upwards of £4million, he’ll play ahead of Ralston. But it’s vital that the youngster continues to get opportunities in the less important matches at Parkhead.
A loan move is out of the question at this stage, as Celtic couldn’t afford to lose him. With only Lustig and Cristian Gamboa as back-up, they aren’t reliable enough replacements.
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Anthony Ralston deserves a chance over the next few months
Instead, Celtic need to be giving players like Ralston a chance. Young Scottish talent that shows real potential that they can grow into big first-team stars.
Ralston of course had a loan spell at Dundee United. It did him some good, but chaos reaped through the club and had him in an unstable environment.
Celtic, meanwhile, have already turned down an offer from St Mirren for Ralston’s services. That surely shows that they see him as getting some frequent game-time over the next five months.
Ralston is a real example of a player who can act as a role-model to other youngsters. His sheer hard-work and willingness to learn has kept him in Brendan Rodgers’ plans. And if he was to continue getting game-time, it provides other academy prospects with proof of what hard work can get you at Celtic.
But the club must stand by the right-back first. Just because an upgrade and potential big-name could be jetting in soon, it’s important the club don’t lose sight of the huge talent they have on their hands.