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CELTIC KID’S SAINTS TARGET

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AT one stage in the summer, Anthony Ralston was the only recognised right-back at Celtic.

Mikael Lustig and Christian Gamboa both quit the champions at the end of their contracts to leave manager Neil Lennon with a problem to solve very quickly.

The Hoops boss brought in Hatem Abd Elhamed, the Israeli international right-back from Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Jeremie Frimpong, the 18-year-old Dutchman, from Manchester City for an initial £350,000 and Moritz Bauer, the experienced Austrian, on a season-long loan from Stoke City.

Suddenly, twenty-year-old Ralston was forced down the pecking order, but Lennon agreed a temporary switch to St Johnstone on transfer deadline day to ensure the Scotland Under-21 defender received first-team football.

The strong-running full-back is satisfied with the outcome and, speaking to the Dundee Courier, said: “The reason I’m here is to play games.

“I’m enjoying my work Monday to Friday to get myself ready for a game and I’m enjoying going out in front of a crowd on a Saturday with points to play for.

“Celtic have had a great start to the season and had an incredible result in the Europa League, but I’m happy with what I’m doing here.

“I enjoyed my time at Dundee United in the Championship and it’s the same at St Johnstone.

“There are things I want to improve on and that’s what I’m working hard to do.

“I’m enjoying playing week in, week out. I feel that my game fitness is building all the time.

“My final ball is something I work on and something I’m hard on myself about.

“You work so hard to get into good areas and it’s deflating if you don’t put a good ball into the box.

“That’s a part of my game I’ll be working on. It’s a strength that I want to show more of.

“With my match fitness I’ve got to the point that I can get up the pitch and back. I’m getting in the right areas and I want to show better quality than I have been.

“Defensive one v ones will always be the most important thing. One v ones against opposing wingers, I’ve done okay. I need to keep my standard high and, hopefully, the attacking side of things will come.”

Ralston’s ultimate aim, of course, is to return to Parkhead next season and pick up a career that had started so promisingly when ex-boss Brendan Rodgers played him against Paris Saint-Germain in a Champions League qualifier.

It didn’t end well for the youngster, but he is currently rewriting his story at McDiarmid Park and aims to come back an improved player after regular game-time.

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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