IT is little wonder that while he and many of his Celtic teammates are currently enjoying a bit of well-earned down-time, Anthony Ralston doesn’t really want this season to end.

The full-back was the fairytale story of Celtic’s title-winning campaign, a poster boy for the renaissance in fortunes that Ange Postecoglou has inspired at the club on both an individual and collective basis.

Included among his many highlights at club level was a first international cap for Scotland - earned as a late substitute in the brilliant win over Denmark - and once he has returned from getting a spot of sunshine with some of his mates from Celtic, he is eager to get right down to work once more with his international colleagues.

That Ralston is being talked about as a potential member of Steve Clarke’s squad for the upcoming World Cup playoff semi-final against Ukraine, one of the national team’s biggest matches for many years, is a huge compliment to him and the turnaround he has engineered in his career through sheer hard graft.

That work may now allow him to help his country onto the biggest stage of all, and Ralston desperately hopes that will be the case.

“Obviously, I made my Scotland debut [this season] and for every player that’s something that’s a landmark in their career they want to hit,” Ralston said.

“I’m delighted I was able to. It’s maybe something that last season I didn’t think would come around. There’s been many things and now I’m looking forward to the summer.

“Maybe there will be the opportunity to go away with my country again which would be something I’ve worked hard to get.

“There’s a lot going on. Maybe when I get a bit of time it will be something I’ll be able to look back on and reflect."

Last summer, there wouldn’t have been many Celtic fans – perhaps not even Ralston himself – who would have been expecting him to still be in the squad come the start of the season, but now the concern from the club’s supporters may be around how rested Ralston and some of his teammates may be after a gruelling month of international fixtures.

“We’ve got a bit of time before we go away and then, if I go away with Scotland, then we’ll get extra time when we return,” he said.

“I will get a bit of a down time and recharge and be ready to go again pre-season.

“It’s been a terrific season for all of us. But it will be good to recharge and get us refuelled to go again for another long season.

“I’ve loved it. From a personal level, it’s been an amazing season. I’m proud of some of the things I’ve achieved. But I never really look at myself, it’s always from a team perspective.

“If, though, I ever take time to myself, it’s obviously from where I was last season – not being involved as much – to where I am just now. I’ve worked so hard to get myself in this position, so I’m delighted how the season’s went personally.

“We’ve not really had a chance to sit back and think about things. It’s been a hectic schedule. To a man, though, we’ve been terrific through the course of the season.

“You think of the boys who have come in at different points and the way the team’s had to change. But we’ve never changed our style of football.

“We’ve committed fully to what the manager’s wanted us to do. And it’s paid off.”

Ralston has seen many triumphs during his time at Celtic, but given most of his career with his boyhood heroes has been spent on the fringes – and even away from the club during loan spells at Dundee United and St Johnstone - is this the first time that he has truly felt part of the title celebrations, rather than being somewhat on the outside looking in?

“I understand what you’re saying,” he said.

“There’s been seasons gone by when special things have happened and I’ve been part of it. But I get what you’re saying.

“I guess this season I’ve played certainly more of a part and you do get that feeling you’ve really contributed to something special.

“For sure, it’s been immensely satisfying.”

What has made the scale of Ralston’s involvement in the Celtic first-team picture this season all the more remarkable is that he has managed to rack up 47 appearances in spite of the presence of Croatian international right-back Josip Juranovic in the squad.

Granted, Juranovic was forced to play as an auxiliary left-back for a spell and had some injury problems towards the end of the campaign, but nevertheless, Ralston feels the strength of that competition has brought out the best in him.

The rivalry with Juranovic is not only a friendly one, then, but one he believes is mutually beneficial.

“Me and Josip’s relationship is brilliant, both on and off the park,” he said.

“If, Josip’s in and playing then I’m there fully supporting him through every game and I want the best for him. If I’m in and playing then he does the exact same for me.

“He encourages me. We speak through things, we’ve both been asked to play a different role. We’ve got a friendly relationship off the park. We get on very well.

“So, of course, it’s a healthy competitive nature. But at the same time we’re very much supporting each other to do the best for the team.”