When the Scottish national team for this particular international break was named I think most of us sniggered to ourselves to see who the listed right backs were; O’Donnell and Patterson.
You looked at that and you wondered what Tony Ralston has to do to get included.
There is something noble about a manager who is loyal to the players who have done well for him.
It’s also pretty stupid. Take the inclusion of Patterson; that cannot be defended by any available metric as he is not, at the moment, playing first team games. No matter what service Clarke thinks he has rendered, his place in the squad is hard to defend.
Ralston’s absence is inexplicable in light of including one player who doesn’t feature and another most Scotland fans don’t rate that highly. It’s becoming almost like a parody sketch now and it’s made even worse by the fact that if not for the signing of Juranovic that Ralston would be in our team every week and in the Player of the Year running.
He has 29 appearances in all competitions.
Most observers agree that he has been one of the spectacular success stories of Ange’s tenure thus far.
The player himself is pretty calm about all this.
Possibly because he’s seen it all before.
Ralston had to struggle and fight for recognition at Celtic and that he’s now got to do so at Scotland shouldn’t bother him one bit. Scotland has two right backs in front of him, and I’d argue he’s better than both.
Clarke can’t rush out to the transfer market and buy another.
At Celtic, all through this summer, Tony Ralston had to endure more pressure than any other player in the team. He played – and he played well – when every headline in every paper on every day was about who we were looking at so we could drop him.
That kind of pressure would have reduced a lesser individual to a gibbering wreck. Ralston is made of much stronger stuff than that. He dug in. He continued to work hard.
He continued to justify his inclusion in the team and finally he got the rewards.
That will happen with the national team.
Things change as time goes by.
Injuries happen. Managers come and go. Opportunities which seemed closed off present themselves, and eventually he will find himself in the team … and once he’s there I think he’ll be there for years and make himself a mainstay of the international setup.
Ralston will not let his head go down. He’ll keep on believing.
He has been through worse and come out smiling on the other side of it.