ANTHONY RALSTON was handed his Celtic first-team debut by Ronny Deila almost SIX years ago.

The aspiring teenage right-back came on as a 74th-minute substitute for Saidy Janko as the Hoops lost 2-1 to St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on May 11 2016.

Among his team-mates that Wednesday evening in Perth were goalkeeper Logan Bailly, defenders Efie Ambrose and Erik Sviatchenko, midfielders Stefan Johansen and Scott Allan, winger Patrick Roberts and striker Leigh Griffiths, who claimed the team’s consolation goal. Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest remained on the subs bench.

WAITING IN THE WINGS…Anthony Ralston warms up as a substitute before his debut appearance against St Johnstone in Perth on May 11 2016.

THE END GAME…Anthony Ralston applauds the travelling Celtic support as the Hoops lose 2-1 to the Saints on his debut almost six years ago.

Since that fairly uneventful first appearance, Ralston’s topsy-turvy career has seen him loaned to Queen’s Park, Dundee United and St Johnstone and it looked as though he was heading for the Parkhead exit in the summer while the management situation was in limbo and the optional year on his contract had not been activated.

That is why Ange Postecoglou believes it is a compliment that there is a discussion about the 23-year-old defender’s non-inclusion for Steve Clarke’s Scotland international squad which drew 1-1 in the friendly with Poland at Hampden last night and will play Austria in another challenge match on Tuesday.

Ralston insisted he will get his head down and give everything for Celtic which may attract the attention of the Scots boss, as CQN reported yesterday.

Postecoglou, who triggered the 12-month option on his deal shortly after his arrival in June, saw enough of the player’s qualities to arrange a four-year extension at the start of November.

HAPPY DAZE…Anthony Ralston turns away in delight after his stoppage-time winner against Ross County in Dingwall in December. Cameron Carter-Vickers is about to join in.

The Hoops gaffer said: “I think the fact some people are surprised he’s not been called up is a reflection on the way he’s been playing.

“If he keeps playing like he does, I’m sure he’ll get looked at and he’ll get the opportunity again.

“He’s come a long way this season. If you think about where he was at the start of the season, if you said in six months people will be disappointed he’s not been picked for the national team, you’d need to check yourself.”

The Greek-Australian gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s a credit to Tony. He’s worked awfully hard and taken every opportunity he’s had. He’s helped us as a team this season in getting us where we are.

“He just needs to keep doing that. This is his first full year at this club where he’s playing meaningful minutes.

“It’s a great foundation for him to improve and get better. If he does that, I’m sure the opportunities will come around for him again.”

ALL SMILES…Joe Hart and Anthony Ralston celebrate the 2-1 Premier Sports League Cup Final triumph over Hibs at Hampden six days before Christmas.

Celtic, in the meantime, are poised to have 700 fans in attendance at crucial league confrontation at Ibrox a week on Sunday.

No travelling supporters have been present at the previous two derbies this season.

The club have made the briefs available for sale to the season holders who had been allocated tickets for the clash at Ibrox in March 2020 which was the first game to fall victim to the pandemic.

Postecoglou’s men go into the encounter with a three-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle with seven games still to play.


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