Steve Clarke explains decision to play Celtic hero Anthony Ralston after snubbing him for months

By David Walton

June 9, 2022

Steve Clarke has been speaking about Anthony Ralston’s first start for Scotland after snubbing him regularly throughout the season.

Ralston wasn’t picked for 3 of the 4 Scotland squads during his club campaign with Celtic. That was despite the fact he was playing at the peak of his powers especially through the first 5 months of the season.

He did earn a call-up back in November, but only featured for 3 minutes before being dropped back in March. Deservedly, Ralston was back in the current squad and given his first start against Armenia. The Celtic hero repaid Clarke with a debut goal and a fine performance that has surely cemented his place for Ireland on Saturday.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And Clarke has explained how he knew Armenia would sit in and give Ralston a challenge that he’s been all too used to with the Hoops.

Speaking to Premier Sports, Clarke said: “He’s got good energy, gets forward. You see Anthony playing week in, week out with Celtic who dominate the ball against teams who sit in and defend.

“We knew Armenia would sit in and defend so it was probably a game Anthony is used to taking part in and it was great for him to get on the end of a good Stuart Armstrong cross. It wasn’t a bad way to mark your first start – your first goal.”

Celtic stars need to be utilised better by Steve Clarke

It probably came as a shock to many watching Scotland’s Nations League win over Armenia last night that Ralston nodded home the opener. Not the Celtic supporters who have been seeing him show his aerial ability in the final third throughout the season.

Taking last night out of the equation, Ralston has barely been utilised and that’s been a huge mistake by Clarke. Not that Ralston definitely would’ve secured the nation World Cup football at the end of the year, but he would’ve given them a much better chance.

Clarke has badly misused some of the Celtic talent at his disposal. David Turnbull, for example, somehow didn’t get a minute last night despite players such as Aaron Hicky, Jacob Brown, and Ross Stewart coming on. Nothing against the trio, but Turnbull has done just as much to deserve some minutes.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But this isn’t a huge surprise either. Again, when Turnbull was flying for Celtic and bagging goals and assists during the first half of the campaign, he was continuously ignored by Clarke.

Hopefully, this new Nations League campaign will open the door for a few of Celtic’s top stars to start receiving the international recognition that they deserve

Last night was a start, but Clarke really needs to make sure he’s utilising them more regularly in the long-run.

In other news, Report: Why Celtic may make Aberdeen wait to sign Liam Scales