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In Focus: Journeyman Hendry's battle to earn Tartan Army spot
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Tom Hancock
LiveScore
Jack Hendry has started two of Scotland's three World Cup qualifiers this season after impressing with Club Brugge
Jack Hendry has started two of Scotland's three World Cup qualifiers this season after impressing with Club Brugge

Jack Hendry’s route to the top has not been easy — but after playing for nine clubs in four countries, he is back in the Scotland fold.

In June, he made his loan move from Celtic to KV Oostende permanent and briefly filled in as captain of De Kustboys before signing for Club Brugge just two months later.

Hendry has shone for the Belgian champions, starring in a strong start to their Champions League campaign and shutting out Paris Saint-Germain stars Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

As the centre-back bids to carry that form into his country’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Israel at Hampden Park tonight, we examine his difficult route back to the top.

Nomadic existence

Hendry only turned 26 in May, but he has already squeezed a lot into a relatively short career.

Having come through the youth system of Partick Thistle in his native Glasgow, the 6ft 4in defender soon left for Wigan — who loaned him to Shrewsbury and MK Dons.

He returned north of the border to join Dundee United in 2017 and was on the move again just six months later, departing for Celtic.

A couple of high-profile errors made Hendry a figure of fun at Parkhead before a loan spell at Australia’s Melbourne City ended in disaster when he suffered knee ligament damage in just his second outing.

Hendry moved to Belgium in July 2020, joining Oostende on loan and impressing by winning 87% of his aerial duels in the Belgian Pro League.

International recognition

Jack Hendry is a confident ball progressor, as evidenced in his 2020 European Championship pass map
Jack Hendry is a confident ball progressor, as evidenced in his 2020 European Championship pass map

Hendry’s early showings for Celtic caught the eye of the then-Scotland manager Alex McLeish, who called him up for the first time in March 2018 — handing him his debut from the start in a 1-0 friendly win over Hungary.

He then had to wait three years to be included in the squad again.

Recalled by Steve Clarke for Euro 2020, Hendry started the Scots’ tournament opener against the Czech Republic at Hampden Park.

But he was culpable in Patrik Schick’s audacious long-range after surrendering possession cheaply with a speculative shot.

He had scored his first international goal in a 2-2 friendly draw with the Netherlands in the lead-up to the Euros and has since started two of Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers this season.

Starring on the continental stage

While he had previously played in Champions League qualifying and the Europa League for Celtic, Brugge’s 2021-22 Champions League Group A meeting with PSG was Hendry's debut in the competition.

And he rose to the occasion in impressive fashion, helping the Blauw-Zwart to a famous 1-1 draw with the French giants — who started with a front three of Mbappe, Neymar and Messi for the first time.

Jack Hendry's Champions League stats for Club Brugge this season make for impressive reading
Jack Hendry's Champions League stats for Club Brugge this season make for impressive reading

Hendry played his part in repelling PSG’s front three. They managed just four shots between them, although Mbappe was forced off injured early in the second half at Jan Breydel Stadium.

He featured again as Brugge won 2-1 at RB Leipzig on Matchday 2, leaving them second in Group A — one point ahead of Manchester City after two games.

Facing the best

Having faced the most illustrious front three in world football, there is little which should now faze Hendry.

Speaking after that PSG game, he said: "To make my debut against that team, against that front three was amazing — they are a really good team and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"From a personal point of view I was delighted with my own performance and it gives me that confidence knowing I can play at that level."

Stones similarities

Despite his height and build, Hendry is a deceptively quick and mobile central defender, comfortable bringing the ball out of defence.

Identified by former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers as a good ball progressor too, former Dundee boss Neil McCann has likened the Brugge defender to Manchester City star John Stones.

A statistical comparison of Jack Hendry and John Stones shows some similarities between the pair
A statistical comparison of Jack Hendry and John Stones shows some similarities between the pair

McCann said: "I actually got in contact with [former Rangers team-mate] Mikel Arteta who, at that time, was working with Stones at Manchester City. 

"Jack had the same attributes as John so it was an interesting bit of analysis."

In the Champions League this term he has a pass completion average of 81.63%, completing three final-third passes per 90 minutes.

Next up for Scotland and Henry are Israel and the Faroe Islands. Given what he has faced so far, he should have no fear.

Tags

ScotlandJack HendryWorld CupClub Bruges
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