With first team stalwarts Callum McGregor and James Forrest now joined by the likes of Anthony Ralston, Stephen Welsh, and Adam Montgomery, the Celtic Academy is being rightfully hailed this morning for its early contribution to the Ange Postecoglou era at Celtic.
You can also factor in Dane Murray’s contributions so far this season, as well as the expected impact that a fully fit Mikey Johnston will make (noting that he has been named in the Celtic squad for the Europa League Play-off match against AZ Alkmaar – a hint that his injury sustained in that costly pre-season friendly against Bristol City wasn’t as serious as first thought). In a friendly encounter, Celtic also lost Karamoko Dembele to an atrocious challenge from an experienced player on a young lad.
Stevie Frail, who worked with many of the youngsters who are now having an influence on Ange Postecoglou – with Callum McGregor proving to be a great success in his new role as Celtic captain – is delighted with the improvement of the Bhoys who have progressed from the Academy to Celtic First Team.
And in his newspaper piece, he began by praising right back Anthony Ralston, who has shown his detractors in the Celtic support wrong while repaying the faith placed in him by the Australian manager.
Given the circumstances we were in at the time, I recall posting an article on here last December recommending Ralston as a potential choice for right back and getting pelted for it! As a result, like Stevie Friel, I’ve been able to enjoy Ralston’s performances without the shame felt by others who mocked a capable player who always gives his all for the shirt. And sure, I am aware that he is not Danny McGrain…
“Anthony has been at the club a few years now and Brendan Rodgers, of course, played him against PSG and the likes of Neymar. I always think he’s acquitted himself well,” former Celtic development coach Stevie Frail told Scottish Sun. “Yet, at the start of the season I don’t think the fans were too inspired by who the first choice full-backs were going to be.
“But Anthony has done fantastically well. He’s a regular in the team and is even chipping in with goals. From what I can see he’s totally bought into what Ange Postecoglou is trying to do with the team. I think Anthony has shown a lot of character.
“It wasn’t that long ago he looked totally out of the first-team picture. He’s come through the ranks and I was fortunate to work with him briefly. I’m delighted for him now because he’s a real good boy, always respectful. Like they all were.
“Now the feelings of a lot of fans will have changed. Anthony has been one of the best players this season. He will have been aware of what supporters were thinking. But he’s not allowed it to affect him. He’s responded brilliantly.urn:uuid:663b48bc-64ee-a739-48ed-a73964ee663b
“Clearly, the transitional situation at Celtic has allowed for boys like him to get a chance. But you still have to take it and he definitely has. And even if Celtic, as seems likely, buy another right-back then I hope it can encourage Anthony to keep on improving.
“I didn’t coach Stephen Welsh at Celtic but I did once get the opportunity, courtesy of Ricky Sbragia, to work with him for Scotland Under-16s and I was really impressed. Stephen looks to be growing in stature with every game.
“When you consider also how well Dane (Murray) and Adam (Montgomery) have done this season then it’s great credit to Celtic’s Academy — but to the manager and John Kennedy, too, for how they’re backing them.
“Michael Johnston has been so unlucky with injuries, but he’s a great talent and I hope things change for him soon.
“James (Forrest) and Callum (McGregor) have been Celtic mainstays for so long now — proper inspirational figures for the Celtic Academy. Between them, they’ve played hundreds of games and won so many trophies, while also playing in the Champions League and for Scotland.
“It was an absolute pleasure to play a small part in their development through to the first team. Celtic had four home-grown players in the starting line-up for the win over Hearts and that’s first class. Hopefully others can make the breakthrough,” Frail added.