Juranovic or Ralston; the selection headache for Celtic boss Postecoglou

By Euan Davidson

September 9, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has some big decisions to make after freshening up his squad, but none more frustrating than choosing between Josip Juranovic and Anthony Ralston.

Ralston’s transformation into an all-action, goal-scoring right-back has been phenomenal. Unheralded in the summer, the Academy graduate signed a one-year extension. It now looks like a master-stroke.

Juranovic, meanwhile, has been on inspired form for one of the top 20 footballing nations on the planet. Statistically, he’s been absolutely staggering, and looked more than capable on the left against Rangers.

Postecoglou will have a number of dilemmas ahead of Ross County’s visit. The headlines will be for Kyogo, and news of his injury. That may facilitate debuts for Jota, Giakoumakis, both or neither.

Equally, do you start Cameron Carter-Vickers? If so, ahead of who? It’s the luxury of being a manager that’s getting backed by his club.

The most agonising decision will be at right-back, though. Not starting Juranovic, signed for a bargain £2.5m [Sky Sports], could be read in all sorts of ways, few in good faith. For example, questions about whether he was a “Postecoglou signing”, or whether he has no faith in his signings. You know the kind of thing.

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Yet, leaving out Ralston seems nigh-on unthinkable, on current form. Granted, the 22-year-old would likely understand he’s the probably second-choice this season.

But when players are in form, you play them. Right?

The Juranovic v Ralston debate will go on long into the season

From being worried about having no right-backs, we’ve suddenly got two very good options. That is, provided Ralston’s recent run wasn’t some kind of fluke, which seems unlikely somehow.

There’s an argument for playing Juranovic on the left again, and much depends on Greg Taylor’s fitness. However, that would only serve to kick the can down the road. Both Juranovic and Ralston are natural right-backs. Postecoglou’s going to have to make a choice at some point.

Yes, again; a good problem to have, for sure. And while all of us play manager in our heads, it’s these real-life decisions that have to be amongst the worst parts of being in the dug-out.

Photo by Stanislav KrasilnikovTASS via Getty Images

Not that there’s anything definitive from whoever Postecoglou chooses. Not yet. The reality is, there’s going to be significant rotation this season. Given the multiple competitions Celtic have to negotiate, it makes sense.

However, the line-up on Saturday will be fascinating. Across the squad, there are some big decisions to be made.

Whoever lines up at right-back for Celtic on Saturday will know there’s significant competition for their place.

That’s a great thing for the club.

In other news: Celtic not as damaged by derby defeat as rivals would’ve hoped