Celtic star Anthony Ralston credits time away from club for vast improvement

By Euan Davidson

October 15, 2021

Celtic man Anthony Ralston has credited his time away on loan spells for his drastic improvement in 21-22.

Time away on loan with St Johnstone and Dundee United over recent years led to speculation as to whether Ralston had a future at Celtic. He emerged from the summer as one of Ange Postecoglou’s best players, after being given a contract extension.

Ralston, who made 24 appearances for St Johnstone in 19-20 [Transfermarkt], advocated for young players to spend time away from Celtic to improve. It seems to have done the trick for the man who’s gone from a squad player to being tipped for Scotland.

He’s even WhoScored?‘s highest-rated Scottish Premiership player, with a rating of 7.87 from six outings.

Ralston said [Celtic FC]:

“I enjoyed my loan spells. My most recent one being St Johnstone. They were great with me, when I went up there, and I enjoyed playing my football.

“It’s important, especially for any young boy, to be playing football week-in, week-out. It’s an important part of the development, and that’s what I’d been given the chance to do when I went there.

Ange is finally getting his perfect Celtic team together | Motherwell vs Celtic Preview

Ange is finally getting his perfect Celtic team together | Motherwell vs Celtic Preview
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“I enjoyed it. And I think these loans that I’ve had in the past have helped me.

“When I got my opportunity to come in and play, it’s helped me experience-wise as well.”

If Anthony Ralston can do it for Celtic, so can others who’re out on loan

The loan system can be pretty cut-throat for young players. We’ve seen plenty of once-promising Academy talents being sent out on repeated loans, only to be released later.

Simultaneously, it’s totally worked for others. The best recent example if Kristoffer Ajer, who transformed into an exciting central defender having spent time with Kilmarnock.

In the main, though, there have been more failures than successes. It’s got to be hard for the Celtic coaches to weigh up. Some players would get more out of training with the first-team. For others, their progress is utterly halted by a lack of game-time.

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It’s hard to get right. And speaking frankly, I doubt there were too many Celtic fans who were blown away by Anthony Ralston at St Johnstone. He’s proven us wrong. Being made to look daft in football is sometimes an acute joy.

If Ralston keeps up his early-season momentum, and cements himself as a must-pick for Ange Postecoglou, he can be added to the short list of players who’ve benefitted massively from being on loan.

The likes of Barry Coffey, Kerr McInroy, Luca Connell, Lee O’Connor and others will hope to follow his lead.

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