From Kieran Tierney to Richard Tait - analysis of the 12 best full-backs in the 18/19 Scottish Premiership

The top 12 full-backs who played in the Scottish Premiership during the 2018/2019 season, as voted by members of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast.

Kieran Tierney and Michael Smith were among the best full-backs. Picture: SNS

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The 12 best full-backs in the 2018/19 Scottish Premiership

There were different tiers to this list. Those decent enough and solid Scottish Premiership full-backs to those at the top who could and possibly will be playing for up a level or two in the coming years.

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Every team in the country has a full-back who impressed but Paul McGinn at St Mirren and Hamilton's Aaron McGowan just missed out on a place, while Livingston were somewhat handicapped with their three at the back system - the centre-back list is one which is very tricky to decide.

Kieran Tierney and Michael Smith were among the best full-backs. Picture: SNS

As always, there are familiar faces to previous years and new entrants. You can read the 17/18 list here and the 16/17 one here.

Note: Putting these lists together is a fine balancing act, with current form, potential and previous seasons taken into consideration. Debate and criticise the selections at your leisure.

12. Nathan Ralph (Dundee)

Winning Dundee's Player of the Season award for the 18/19 campaign is not too much of a feat. It was a disaster for the Dens side. Yet Ralph thoroughly deserved it for his performances. He was one of few players who emerged from the season with dignity and credit. It is no surprise he has triggered a clause in his contract to leave the club with English sides interested.

The Englishman was one of Neil McCann's positive signings in the summer - perhaps the only one. Plucked from Woking, he had a frustrating start before displaying a combative approach to defending. Excellent in the air and adept at defending the back post - recorded the 10th best aerial duel success rate and best for a full-back.

11. Shay Logan (Aberdeen)

The Aberdeen ace was placed second in this list two seasons ago. After that high he stagnated and regressed. That speaks to the levels he reached in the 16/17 campaign more than anything.

It seems that having fought his way into a prominent position in a big team he has relaxed without competition behind him. He can be guilty of switching off and losing concentration. Still, he is a very good full-back at Premiership level. Aggressive and positive, two qualities you want in someone who plays in the position.

10. Richard Foster (St Johnstone)

There was a lot of scoffing when the player touted himself for a Scotland call-up earlier in the season. This is a character who is largely disliked by Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers fans and one who is not afraid to express his opinion. That being said, when he did come out with the Scotland opinion he was in excellent form at St Johnstone.

Foster had formed a fine relationship with Drey Wright down the right. This was a player brimming with confidence and it showed. He can be such a tough opponent with his solid build and pace. Wright, however, got a season-ending injury and in turn Foster's form nose-dived.

9. Lewis Stevenson (Hibernian)

The year is 2057. Lewis Stevenson is still left-back for Hibs and still in the top 12 full-backs list. The 29-year-old is the ultimate case of staying power. He has seen off more than 10 players gunning for his spot in the Hibs team. He has done so with sheer consistency and steady improvements year-on-year.

It seems that with every manager who has passed through Easter Road he takes something from them and adds it to his game. It's a position Hibs fans are often looking at for improvement. Why bother when Stevenson keeps making progress. The year is 2057. Lewis Stevenson is the best player in the world.

8. Mikael Lustig (Celtic)

Speaking of staying power and a position fans would like improvement, we come to Mikael Lustig. Such has been the quality and general brilliance of Celtic in their march to the treble treble that the area which requires the biggest improvement features a 75-cap Swedish international with a glut of trophies to his name.

A big concern regarding the 32-year-old is his reliability. He is creaking. Yet, he won back his place in the team ahead of Jeremy Toljan and was a player Neil Lennon could trust. In turn he repaid his boss with a number of solid performances. Could still be worth keeping around for a year.

7. Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian)

It speaks to the level of those on the list that the Northern Irishman finds himself so far down. Ask Hearts fans to name the one player they are sure will play to a high level on a weekly basis and not let them down, the answer would be Michael Smith.

Arguably his best displays were in the middle of a back three as the sweeper. He reads the game very well and is rarely beaten in one-v-one situations or found of position. Not renowned for his attacking qualities, he posted the highest success rate with his crossing. The biggest compliment is that Craig Levein likely wishes he had about half a dozen Michael Smiths.

6. Richard Tait (Motherwell)

It has been a slightly different season for the 29-year-old. Last campaign saw him finish as the defender with the most assists, this past term he hasn't been nearly as prominent in the final third, his crossing figures dropping from 171 to 97. It owes to the change in positioning. He didn't operate as a wing-back, instead providing support to a winger from left-back.

Which leads onto his unique capabilities within this list. He is just as effective on the left than he is on the right. You would be hard pressed to find a fitter, more athletic player in the league and he combines it with a football intelligence, recording the second most interceptions for a full-back.

5. Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)

Placing him fifth seems awfully harsh and should not take away from what a great season he has had. From sticking Joey Barton 30 feet in the air a couple of years back, Taylor has progressed into a fine full-back whose development under Steve Clarke has been great to watch.

Despite his age, he belongs to a different era the way he takes to the full-back role. He plays a supportive role in attacks, not a bombarding one. Emilio Izaguirre, who played a third of the minutes Taylor did, recorded more crosses. The 21-year-old's game is in defending, recording the eight most defensive duels. He embraces the combative nature of the role.

3= Max Lowe (Aberdeen)

A true thoroughbred and one of the best signings of the season. After years of witnessing Andrew Considine perform the left-back role steadily, albeit awkwardly, Aberdeen fans got to see a proactive attacking full-back, more accustomed to being on the front foot.

The Derby County loanee excited as he provided real attacking intent and thrust, helping the Dons transition. Refined defensively he isn't, but he was exactly what Aberdeen needed. More craft in the defensive third and he will be a cracking player.

3= Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock)

The Scotland international provides the perfect balance to Killie's defence. While Greg Taylor is more reserved, O'Donnell is rampaging. He is as dab a hand at baking Empire biscuits as he is at taking opposing wingers for a run.

The 27-year-old gave Killie width on the right, playing behind Chris Burke or Rory McKenzie who would allow him to make those driving runs and pop up in dangerous areas in the final third. He is a strong runner with a big build capable of working both ways. He doesn't shirk his defensive responsibility, finishing in the top 30 for defensive duels and interceptions. Not an easy opponent in the slightest.

2. James Tavernier (Rangers)

The Rangers captain has always had doubts about his defensive capabilities, especially when he made the step up from the Scottish Championship to the top flight. Yet, he continues to improve in that area but what he provides going forward more than outweighs any weaknesses behind him.

Most assists, most crosses, third-most passes, most through balls, most key passes, second-most progressive runs, 12th for defensive duels and 12th for dribbles. He's a tour de force.

1. Kieran Tierney (Celtic)

It has probably been Tierney's most difficult season of his career, and he still played a big part in the treble treble for his boyhood team. Groin and hip issues robbed him of around 20 appearances but such a setback could stand him in good stead going forward, wherever that may be.

He is the best full-back in the league and the most talented player in the country. Celtic played better when he was in the team, driving forward and providing a threat from the left with Scott Sinclair still somewhat off the boil. When he is out of the team it gives the opposition a huge lift. Read into that what you will.