Steve Clarke sends out confusing message by snubbing Celtic's Anthony Ralston for Nathan Patterson

By David Walton

August 24, 2021

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has sent out a bemusing message devoid of logic today after leaving out Anthony Ralston in favour of Rangers’ Nathan Patterson.

Clarke named his squad today for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in September. The Tartan Army will face Denmark, Moldova, and Austria in a massive triple-header that will prove pivotal for their qualification hopes ahead of 2022.

Ibrox youngster Patterson has played once for Rangers this season – a 90-minute appearance against Dunfermline in a League Cup game. He found himself at Euro 2020 having only managed to make 12 appearances for his club – only eight of which came in the starting XI.

Already this season, Celtic’s Ralston has already featured nine times – all from the start. Not to mention he’s bagged two goals and an assist whilst turning his career around and being in form over the last month in particular.

Scotland have a right-back problem. That problem being that we don’t have enough quality in the position. Patterson isn’t the answer yet given he isn’t playing regularly for his club. Ralston, however, deserved the opportunity given how hard he’s worked in pre-season.

Celtic defender Anthony Ralston merits inclusion over Nathan Patterson

Whilst ommitting the Celtic man would’ve been understandable had we had better quality alternatives, we don’t. The inclusion of Patterson is a massive slap in the face for Ralston, himself only 22 years of age. There’s plenty of time for him to make himself Scotland’s main right-back as opposed to his Ibrox rival.

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Yet Clarke has sent out a confusing message with his decision today. A message that suggests in-form players won’t always be rewarded where possible. An explanation for this particular decision would be ideal.

If Ralston can’t get into the squad on current form, what hope is there that he ever will? It’s not as if Patterson has played all of Rangers’ games this season and has been thriving domestically and in Europe. He’s nothing more than a back-up at the moment.

Clarke took the Rangers right-back to the Euros based on a handful of games. Or perhaps it was due to pressure from Steven Gerrard. Only he can answer that. But suddenly he’s refusing to pick an in-form player for reaons unbeknownst to us all.

And it’s not something the Celtic fans were left too impressed with either. Here’s a look at some of the reaction to the decision on Twitter:

In other news, Celtic talent Liel Abada named in top 100 list of world football youngsters