COMEBACK Bhoy Anthony Ralston has thanked boss Brendan Rodgers AND Mikael Lustig for getting his Celtic career back on track.
The 20-year-old right-back made his first appearance of the season last week and celebrated by scoring the opening goal in the 3-0 triumph over Motherwell at Parkhead.
He kept his place for the visit of Dundee at the weekend and again put in a powerful performance as the Taysiders were swept away in another three-goal landslide for the champions.
Ralston almost netted in that encounter, too, with a low angled drive that smacked against the inside of the post and was cleared in the closing moments.
And the strong-running youngster revealed inspirational words from Rodgers and Lustig have got him moving in the direction again following his meteoric rise to the big-time and a starting place against Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season.
Ralston, who spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Championship outfit Dundee United, gave credit to his Hoops gaffer and said: “He helped me out during the tough times and he kept me going during the dip that I had.
“I kept my hunger, kept going into training and showing that, hopefully, one day, I’d get my opportunity and take it.
OUT OF LUCK…Anthony Ralston rattles the Dundee woodwork with keeper Jack Hamilton helpless.
“I’ve had wee chats with him and he told me to keep going, to keep working away. He was great, so I had to keep working.
“It was tough at times, but you just need to get through the hard times and keep going. You have to keep trying to impress, which was the mentality that I had.
“It just makes you more hungry when you are out of the team. It keeps you driving on, trying to impress the manager, that’s what it’s about.
“You have to stay strong and have a strong mentality and that’s what this team has got. I’ve just kept my head down, I’ve kept working away and I’ll continue to do that.”
Ralston has taken over from the crocked Lustig, but he also gave massive credit to the Swede – 12 years his senior – for his resurgence in form.
The defender added: “He’s brilliant. He’s top drawer and a great professional. I’ve learned a lot from his experience in terms of my own time coming up at Celtic. He gives me wee tips, he’s been great.”
“I’ve enjoyed being back out in front of the fans. It’s great getting the opportunity and I’ve been hard at work. Also, the boys have been in such good form and were terrific again.
“Now we have to kick on. We’ve got some big games coming up. I’ll just keep working hard and hope I can stay in the team.
“That’s not my decision, that’s the gaffer’s decision. I just need to get myself back to where I was and keep trying to impress the gaffer.”
Rodgers now faces a huge decision before the crunch confrontation with Aberdeen at Pittodrie tomorrow with the Swede now back to match fitness.
The exuberance of Ralston? Or the experience of Lustig?
It will be an interesting call for the Irishman!