Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou stressed any new signings would complement and not replace his players as he hailed the “unbelievable” Anthony Ralston.
Ralston has been a revelation this season and enhanced his burgeoning reputation with another impressive performance in Celtic’s 2-0 Europa League play-off first-leg win over AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday night.
The 22-year-old put in several excellent clearances and created some good chances, notably a late opportunity which led to Odsonne Edouard forcing a double save.
Ralston only played one game last season – when 14 of his team-mates were self-isolating – but has been ever-present since Postecoglou’s arrival amid a dearth of alternative right-backs.
But the defender has seized his opportunity to such an extent that Croatia right-back Josip Juranovic – who looks set to arrive in a £2.5m transfer from Legia Warsaw – will face a serious battle for a place in the team.
After goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and James Forrest earned Celtic a fifth consecutive win, Postecoglou said: “I hate singling people out, but I actually said it to the team and I don’t mind saying it publicly, Anthony Ralston was just unbelievable.
“And at the end there he was still sprinting forward trying to create stuff for us.
“And I know he will have been running on empty, he has played every minute of every game.
“Anyone who has witnessed our last four or five games, players are giving everything.
“There’s a core group I am continually going to and we need to support them and the club is well aware of that. It’s our responsibility to provide support, and by that I mean extra players, and relieve the burden.”
The former Australia head coach added: “I’m not bringing in people to replace people, I’m bringing in people to support the ones we have got here.
“It doesn’t matter who the player is, it’s inconceivable that they can play every game. Cal (Callum McGregor) probably thinks he can, and he probably could, but we have just got to be really careful.
“I am looking for players that are going to complement the ones we have got so we can build a strong squad, which we are going to need if we want to be successful. Especially playing the football we do.
“I have said right-back is a priority position because Anthony is the only one we have got. He is doing unbelievably well but he needs support.”