Anthony Ralston ready to fill Alistair Johnston void if defender is sidelined by injury
The Canadian defender was injured in a collision with Borna Barisic as Celtic defeated Rangers 1-0 to book their place in the Scottish Cup final. But, having deputised at the national stadium, Ralston says he is ready to help the Parkhead sightsee out the season on a high and bank a domestic treble.
“I wish Ali all the best with his health and his recovery,” said Ralston. “We’re not quite sure what it is but the main thing is that he’s all right. If I need to step in and do my job, then I’ll step in and do my job. That’s the mindset of all the players in the squad. It’s a big squad and it’s important to know your role when you could be called on at any point.”
Ange Postecoglou’s men travel to Tynecastle this weekend, where they could add the Premiership title to the League Cup they have already secured this season, and with the Celtic gaffer unsure how long he might be without Johnston, Ralston is keen to prove his worth. “It’s one of our goals to win the title and we’re going to try our best to do that. It starts with the training pitch. We’ll go and implement our things in training to then go and execute it at the weekend,” said the Scot, who has made 18 appearances, for club and country, this term. From day one, the gaffer’s message has been that we train every day like we are going to play, and that’s what we all do. Success comes as a team. Of course you want to be playing as much as possible, but the most important thing is the end goal and that end goal is achieved by having a squad, not individuals. It’s about a squad of boys that want to achieve special things. That’s what we want to do and that’s how we work.”
If selected on Sunday, he will return to the scene of his first goal under his Aussie boss. “That feels like a lifetime ago now,” said Ralston. “I closed my eyes and hoped for the best with my left foot! That goal in July 2021 was not enough to give Celtic victory, though, as Hearts ran out 2-1 winners that day. “We know it’s a tough place to go, but it’s about us and we’ll go into training and get our heads down. Sunday is done, it’s about next weekend now. We go to work and we aim to go there and win.”
And, he says, the manner of the win also counts. “We want to be able to burst through the finish,” he added. “It’s not a case of letting up at all. If we can play our football, I’m sure everything will take care of itself.” Only then will they allow their minds to drift to the possibility of a superb domestic treble, when they return to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden in June. “We strive to do that as a squad. Take it a day at a time like we have from day one and we’ll hopefully achieve our end goal.”