Over the last six seasons Mikael Lustig has had to fight off a few challengers for the right-back slot at Celtic- plus hip surgery- but the signs are that the Swede is now facing his toughest competition to date.
Adam Matthews could have been a contender until injuries thwarted his progress but it seems that Anthony Ralston is about to put in a major challenge for a place in the Celtic side.
Towards the end of last season Brendan Rodgers decided that the 18-year-old was to be put ahead of Cristian Gamboa in the pecking order, two months into the new term it is now Lustig’s place that is under threat.
The Celtic boss is big on physique, although his emphasis is on skill players need to have the capacity to last 90 minutes and more without flagging.
“If you look at the youth in our team today we had Anthony Ralston who is 18, and yet you’d think he’s 28,” Rodgers said after the recent win at Kilmarnock. “Ralston’s maturity in his performance, and how tactically aware he is, both great.”
It looks like Ralston is nearing the stage that Kieran Tierney reached two years ago when he ousted Emilio Izaguirre.
At that time Ralston was out on loan at Queens Park with injury hampering his progress last season.
After being called up to train with the full Scotland squad last week his development is accelerating.
Lustig is hardly slacking as he helps Sweden towards the World Cup Finals in Russia but at club level his place is under greater threat than ever.