LIAM Henderson made the most of some down time last weekend to keep an eye on his younger sibling’s footballing progress and he is happy that Celtic have continued to do the same when it comes to his own development.
“We had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off,” said the Scotland youth international, happy to have the free time to spend with family as full internationals interrupted the domestic game. “It was my mum’s birthday so we went for a nice wee meal and we went to watch my wee brother’s game so that was good. He plays for Broxburn and it was a top-of-the-table clash. They managed to win 3-1 and he got a goal as well so that was good. He always scores a goal when I’m there, he’s a striker.”
But, while he keeps a watchful eye on wee brother Jamie, Hibernian’s attacking midfielder, on loan from the Parkhead side, is being monitored himself. Far from forgotten by his parent club, Celtic’s head of youth development Chris McCart has been taking in his performances and other members of the club’s management team have also been maintaining contact.
A bright spark in the Hibs team, the teenager made more than 20 appearances for the Glasgow side before heading out on loan to Norwegian side Rosenborg during the latter part of last term. Looking for more first-team football, in the summer he took another leave of absence from Parkhead and signed up for a season-long spell in the capital.
Loving his time at the Championship side and focused on helping them earn a return to the top flight by pegging back the teams above them, he is also pleased to note that he is still capturing the attention of the defending Premiership champions.
“It’s good that Chris is coming along and watching me. It gives you that incentive that they’re not just kind of forgetting about you. They’re always keeping tabs on you and keeping in touch with you which, personally, is good. I hope the feedback has been good. I think it will be okay. I’ve worked with Chris since I was about 12. John Kennedy and John Collins have been in touch as well asking how I am enjoying it and they said they would try and get along. But I’m here for a year and that’s all I’m concentrating on. Celtic is not on my mind at the moment, it’s just 100 per cent on trying to give back to the manager for showing faith in me and the boys on the pitch as well.”
The task of clawing back the 11-point gap on league leaders Rangers begins in earnest today when the Easter Road side host Dumbarton, before coming up against Falkirk on Tuesday and then Raith Rovers and Rangers the following week but the fact that there is even more competition for places is lifting the standards, says Henderson. “Before we broke up [for the international break] the training was really tough but it’s enjoyable as well. Everyone has got an edge and everyone is back fit. There’s some amount of games coming up, so I’m sure the squad will get used. I’m sure whoever comes in the quality will still be high and we’ll be looking for the victories.”
But the depth of squad means that with so many players fit and available, the pressure is on those currently in the starting line up. If they want to safeguard their place in the team they know they have to deliver.
“That’s the games you want to play in. The top-of-the-table clashes are the games you want to play in. It’s a busy schedule but we’ve got a good run going and we’ve got a lot of boys on good form.
“But I enjoy playing every game. You like the games that you have the space and you can play. But we’ve been to Livingston and Queen of the South as well and we showed another side to our game. It wasn’t all just nice football.”