CELTIC fullback Anthony Ralston has spoken of trying to separate himself from the emotional pull of playing for his boyhood club with the responsibility of doing his job. 

Having come through the academy structure of Celtic, Ralston hails from a family who all support the Parkhead side. Previous players have spoken of the demands that can create with a hubbub of chat around Celtic and the pressures it brings difficult to escape.

“Even though I am a Celtic fan it is important that you separate both, to an extent,” he said. “I am player for Celtic as well, so I have a job at hand to do for the team. So, I try and just separate them both when it comes to this sort of stuff. 

“My mindset has never been any different - obviously I’d want the team to win everything they are involved in just as much when I wasn’t playing to when now I have been playing.

“Nothing ever changes over that, as obviously I’m a Celtic fan first and foremost. But there is obviously a different feel about it because I have been heavily involved this season, contributed a lot more than I had previously.

“So in that sense, yeah, maybe a little [in terms of feeling different] but in the overall, general aspect of it, not overly because I have always wanted the team to do the best that they can. That doesn’t change.”

Ralston compounded expectations with the manner in which he started the season. The right-back has dipped out of the team again since the turn of the year with Josip Juranovic deployed on his favoured side but he has maintained that there is no rivalry between the two.

“Neither me nor Josip see it as a challenge against each other,” he said. “If Josip’s in, I support him. If I’m in and I’m playing he supports me fully. It is healthy to have competition in all places, not just the one we’re in.

“He is a quality player and I’ve had a good season myself. So we are both in a good place, we are both in good form, so whoever’s playing is playing, and whoever’s not supports the other person, both on and off the field.

“It is about doing a job for the team. That is the most important thing. It is not about who is playing over who or what, competition. That is not how we see it.”

For now, both minds are focused on ensuring Celtic keep their noses in front. With nine league games remaining there is a feeling that this afternoon’s meeting with Livingston could be significant given Celtic’s recent form against the Almondvale side.

Intriguingly, no member of Celtic’s first-team squad has left Livingston with a win – even Greg Taylor and David Turnbull at Kilmarnock and Motherwell respectively did not have any joy – with Ange Postecoglou’s side keen to get that monkey off their backs. 

“We are focussed on each game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Ralston. “That is the best way to deal with the situation we are in. We know it is important to take it each game at a time, focus on ourselves and stay calm as a collective group. Obviously our objective is to win all the games we have left in the season. 

“It’s no secret that Livingston is a tough game. You obviously have the stats for it but it is important we put that all behind us, we don’t focus on that, we focus on the upcoming game - and that is Livingston away. We don’t focus on the past, we focus on ourselves and the football we want to play, and hope that will get the job done on the day.”