Toulon semis would be icing on the cake for Celtic full-back

Scotland youngster Anthony Ralston made his Celtic debut against St Johnstone in May. Picture: Rob Casey/SNSScotland youngster Anthony Ralston made his Celtic debut against St Johnstone in May. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Scotland youngster Anthony Ralston made his Celtic debut against St Johnstone in May. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Celtic kid Anthony Ralston reckons a first Toulon Tournament semi-final for Scotland for 22 years would cap off an amazing few weeks for the right back after Brendan Rodgers handed him his first start.

The young Scots, fresh from beating Brazil for the first time at any level on Saturday, face the Asian minnows Indonesia today in Vitroiles.

Intriguingly in this of all weeks, a win for Scotland could see them clinch a best runners-up spot that would seal a semi-final place… almost certainly against England on Thursday.

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And that would be the icing on an incredible few weeks for impressive, 18-year-old young right back Ralston. He made his first start for Rodgers’ all-conquering Hoops side against St Johnstone last month. He followed that up by helping Scot Gemmill’s side deservedly beat the Brazilians in France.

And he’s determined to help Scotland make history this week in the prestigious tournament.

Ralston said: “It’s been the stuff of dreams for me after my first Celtic start and then beating Brazil. I’ve been a Celtic fan all my life along with my family so that was amazing.

“We were buzzing after the Brazil game. We’re the first Scottish team to achieve that and now we have to move on.

“I had friends and family all getting in contact to congratulate me and I’m sure it was the same for the rest of the boys. We could also see from social media how proud everyone was back home. We stuck to our gameplan, pressed them and they didn’t know how to deal with it.

“Brazil are used to keeping the ball and passing it but we went out to unsettle them and we got the result.

“All the experiences I’ve had throughout the year with Celtic and away in tournament football prepared me for coming up against the quality players Brazil had. It showed on Saturday and the same for the rest of the boys who have had similar first team experiences.

“We all went out with the attitude that it was 11 v 11 and not think of them as Brazil and we went out and had a go.”

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Ralston is highly rated at Parkhead and was thrust into the spotlight by Rodgers who threw him into the first team and then praised his maturity after the game. And the full back has been enormously impressed by Rodgers.

He said: “The gaffer has been outstanding since he came in. He’s changed me as a player and he’s given me a great deal of confidence. We’ve just gone through the season unbeaten for the full season, which is remarkable. He’s a great man-manager as well. He’s given me a lot of confidence. He’s brilliant.

“When he talks to you, he does give you a lot of confidence. He’s worked with a lot of experienced players and he tries to pass that experience on and implement that into my game. I can’t wait to go back and see what he feels lies ahead for me. Mikael Lustig is a great professional and I learn a lot from training with him and watching in games.”

Now Ralston wants to extend his stay in France… even if it means missing Saturday’s World Cup showdown.

He said: “If that happens that we have to play England, we will deal with it. It’s just another game for us and we will approach it the same way. We will go out and try to get the win. It would be a great all-round occasion

“If I was back home, I would definitely try to get a ticket and go along to Scotland v England. I support Scotland, it’s my national team.

“But if we go through to the semi-finals, we will be in the Final or third and fourth place play-off then and that would mean we would still be here on Saturday anyway! So that’s the aim.”

Meanwhile, Gemmill – who has a doubt over ankle knock victim Oliver Burke – has warned his youngsters to treat Indonesia tonight like they are Brazil.

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He said: “You can see from watching their performances in their first two games that Indonesia are very organised. They have been in a camp for a month and you can see that.

“But at the same time, we came here to do well and we are going to be very motivated and I am really confidence if we can get our performance correct, we can win.”