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Anthony Ralston never gave up on his Celtic dream despite a 15 month absence from first team action.

The defender started last season on fire earning comparisons to Kieran Tierney as he made his mark in the Celtic side.

A knee injury soon after playing against Paris Saint Germain took longer than expected to heel as did his first team hopes.

Going out on loan to Dundee United provided Ralston with game time but when he returned to Celtic he remained a distant third choice at right-back behind Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa.

A goal and starring performance against Motherwell in midweek reopened the door to the first team with the teenager building on that with another strong performance in the win over Dundee.

Ralston almost seemed the forgotten man but has revealed that Brendan Rodgers ensured that his head never dropped.

He helped me out during the tough times and he kept me going during the dip that I had,” Ralston told the Daily Record about his manager.

I kept my hunger, kept going into training and showing that, hopefully, one day, I’d get my opportunity and take it. I’ve had wee chats with him and he told me to keep going, to keep working away. He was great, so I had to keep working.

It was tough at times, but you just need to get through the hard times and keep going. You have to keep trying to impress, which was the mentality that I had. It just makes you more hungry when you are out of the team. It keeps you driving on, trying to impress the manager, that’s what it’s about.

You have to stay strong and have a strong mentality and that’s what this team has got. I’ve just kept my head down, I’ve kept working away and I’ll continue to do that. You always want to play football and I’ve had a hunger to get back and play for Celtic.”

With Lustig fit again Rodgers has a big decision to make for Wednesday’s game at Pittodrie with Ralston back in contention after over a year out of the picture.

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