Celtic exile Jack Hendry puts himself in shop window with "top strikers" comments

By Euan Davidson

March 24, 2021

Celtic exile Jack Hendry is back in the Scotland squad. That’s good news for everyone, really.

After his struggles for the Bhoys, it’d be churlish to not wish the guy well. He’s come into a game over in Belgium for a top defence. Given the horror of his first loan spell away [Daily Record] too, it’s been a remarkable turn-around for the former Dundee man.

He seems to have settled in Belgium. In fact, he’s talked up the Jupiler League. Given his apparent openness to stay in mainland Europe, his comments make for interesting reading.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of his international return, Hendry said:

“Out there in Belgium, if you look at the league, there are some top teams in it and even the teams you might not know, they’ve got good quality forward players. That’s what you want as a defender to bring on your game – to be facing top-quality strikers week-in week-out and I feel I’ve been doing that in Belgium.”

“Playing against international strikers, it maybe helps coming to a squad like this that I’m used to playing at that level and feel I can play at that level and go further.

“I feel that I’ve competed at a real good level and against top strikers and, if anyone has watched those games, they can see how good a defender I can be.”

In fairness, Belgium has a higher UEFA co-efficient [UEFA]. However, there isn’t much of a difference in standard. While yes, there are international strikers in the Jupiler Pro, the Scottish Premiership has plenty. So what’s he saying here?

Jack Hendry, in an oft-forgotten Celtic kit / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Jack Hendry comments: thinly-veiled statement on Celtic future?

Fair play to Celtic defender Jack Hendry. His career turn-around isn’t just an unlikely one, it’s semi-biblical. He’ll be delighted to return to the Scotland squad, too.

Still, it reads a little cheeky, does it not? Is it possible the former Dundee and Wigan man is getting ideas above his station? Let’s be frank; he came up against non-internationals and struggled in the Scottish top-flight. In European qualifiers, he could often be found culpable for cheap goals.

Certainly, the Celtic team is full of internationals who are being selected based on their domestic form. Kristoffer Ajer is a future Norway captain. Even Shane Duffy, who has had a horrible year, is being picked for Ireland. It’s not as if playing for Celtic has ever been a dead-end in regards to international players.

Yes, he’s full of confidence, but is he really playing against a much better standard of striker in Belgium? It’s hard to argue he is. And it reads more than a bit gallus on his part to suggest he’s in the squad because he’s playing at a higher standard. If he is, then the step up is negligible.

If we’re being cynical, and we often are, it very much reads like he’s saying he’s ready for a step beyond Celtic. Anyone who watched Jack Hendry play for Celtic might feel a little aggrieved here.

That said, he was effectively jettisoned twice by the club. If he has a chip on his shoulder, it’s warranted. Still though, if he’s angling for a Celtic return, he has a funny way of showing it.

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