By Frank McAvennie

4th Nov, 2021 | 7:00am

McAvennie hails 'brilliant' Ralston after 'huge' Celtic news

Frank McAvennie insists Anthony Ralston “has a long way to go” to become a key player at Celtic.

The former Hoops hitman, speaking exclusively to Football Insider reacted as the defender was handed a new deal by the club.

Ralston, 22, was handed a new contract by Celtic on Tuesday (2 November) which will keep him at Parkhead until 2025.

The defender has made 21 appearances in all competitions this season and scored four goals.

McAvennie insists Ralston has earned his new deal but admitted he wants to see an improvement in his defensive work.

“He’s seen a chance because there isn’t another right-back and he’s taken it,” McAvennie told Football Insider correspondent Ben Wild.

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“My criticism is his defending. He is wonderful going forward but I want to see him defend better.

“I don’t think that is too much to ask. He’s only a young boy and he has great people around him.

“Stephen McManus and John Kennedy were both defenders, they should be showing Ralston the ropes.

“I know Celtic play on the front foot, that’s why he is doing brilliantly. You can’t deny the improvement.

“I will admit, I criticised him. That doesn’t just go for Ralston by the way, the entire defence needs to learn how to defend.

“He’s earned what he’s been given, it’s huge for him personally. I hope his form continues.

But I also think he still has a long way to go to be that key man, so to speak.”

In other news, one pundit claims a “top-quality” signing will be first through the door at Celtic in January.