Celtic-owned Anthony Ralston enjoying St Johnstone spell

By David Walton

November 13, 2019

Anthony Ralston has made a fine start to his St Johnstone career, and the player himself has expressed enjoyment with the move.

The Celtic-owned right-back has been a regular for Tommy Wright’s strugglers this season. Already, Ralston has managed eight appearances since signing with the McDiarmid Park outfit. He’s managed to fill the gap left by Ricky Foster over the summer nicely.

It’s come after being too far out of the picture at Parkhead. The signings of Hatem Abd Elhamed, Moritz Bauer, and Jeremie Frimpong respectively meant that Ralston had next to no chance of getting any game-time at Celtic. After all, the academy graduate has failed to make more than five appearances in a single season for the Hoops since his debut back in 2016 (FitbaStats).

Anthony Ralston’s Celtic chances have been limited (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Fortunately, it looks as though he’s landed on his feet this year. Speaking to the Courier, Ralston spoke of his enjoyment after making the summer switch.

“I’m enjoying playing week in, week out. That was why I came here. I feel that my game fitness is building all the time. My final ball is something I work on and something I’m hard on myself about.

“The reason I’m here is to play games. I’m enjoying my work Monday to Friday to get myself ready for a game and I’m enjoying going out in front of a crowd on a Saturday with points to play for.

“Celtic have had a great start to the season and had an incredible result in the Europa League but I’m happy with what I’m doing here. There are things I want to improve on and that’s what I’m working hard to do.”

Difficult to see a path for Ralston at Celtic

Last season, Celtic had Mikael Lustig and Jeremy Toljan at the club from January onwards. A nasty knee injury meant that Ralston could only make one appearance during that period.

Ralston (right) played just four games in total last season (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

But now, our strength in the right-back position has increased ten-fold. When Ralston returns at the end of the season, it’s difficult to see where he fits in. His best hope is to take the place of Bauer, who is scheduled to go back to Stoke City at the same time Ralston returns.

As for his contract at Celtic, Ralston’s deal runs out in 2022 (CelticFC.net). Looking at things from that perspective, he still has time to make an impact. However, we’ve not seen enough improvement from him over the last couple of years.

It’s imperative for him that he continues to impress in Perth. At the very least, he has to show that he can hold his own at Premiership level over a full season. St Johnstone have given him that opportunity, and he’s clearly started in good individual form.

Tommy Wright has handed Ralston his big break (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Things haven’t been great from a team perspective of course. Out of Ralston’s eight Saints appearances, only two have ended in victory. With just one assist to his name too, it’s fair to say that he could do with bulking up that stat as well.

But his mind is in the right place judging by his comments. A place in the Celtic team may never arrive for him in the future, but he still clearly has the skills to carve out a successful career for himself.