CELTIC and Jack Hendry are heading for a crunch make-your-mind-up confrontation in the summer.
Interim boss John Kennedy insists the three times-capped Scotland international central defender still has a future at Parkhead, despire rarely featuring since his £1.2million arrival from Dundee in January 2018.
Hendry joined Belgian outfit KV Oostende on a season-long loan in June and has impressed so much during his spell in the Jupiler Pro League he has attracted admiring glances from Bunsesliga clubs, Werder Bremnen included.
The 25-year-old was pegged at £1.75million when the temporary transfer was agreed, but his value has soared and he could be brought back to the Hoops where he still has a year of his contract to run.
The player admitted “it has not been easy” for him to watch the faltering champions come off the rails in their quest for the historic tenth successive title, as CQN reported during the week.
Hendry was also moved out on loan in January 2020 to Melbourne City, but injury in his second outing required knee surgery and scuppered any hopes of getting game time with the Australian team.
Now the club and the centre-back face a massive decision in the near future.
Caretaker gaffer Kennedy reflected on the defender’s initial impact at Parkhead and admitted: “Jack came in for a period and it probably didn’t quite work out. He had periods in the team and periods not and then the decision came to put him out to play.
“I don’t know the details about the deal in terms of beyond the loan, but Jack, at his age and his stage of his career, had to get out and play.
“We had a number of centre backs who were ahead of him, he recognised that and we had to come to an agreement to get him out playing.”
Kennedy, speaking to the Sunday Mail, added: “It is good that he has done well. We have kept in touch, I have spoken to him several times, he is enjoying himself and playing regularly. It was a decision made at the times based on what we had and where we saw it.
“Again, that will be something that will need to be addressed in the summer. I don’t think a decision will be made until then. It will depend on everybody’s situation and how things look and people’s opinions, but a conversation will take place probably then.
“Until then, he just has to continue to play, get the games under his belt and people will make that decision.
“Having spoken to him, I know game time is what he has enjoyed most.”
It is evident Celtic’s central defensive options will have to be reorganised in the summer. Shane Duffy will head back to Brighton after a disastrous loan stint while Christopher Jullien could be ruled out until October with the knee injury sustained against Dundee United just before the turn of the year.
Hatem Abd Elhamed, who could alternate between full-back and the middle of the rearguard, rejoined Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the January transfer window while there is continued speculation makeshift centre-back Nir Bitton will also return to Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv on his trail.
Kristoffer Ajer will have 12 months to run on his contract at the start of the new campaign and the Norwegian international, 22, has been continually linked with AC Milan over the past year.
Inexperienced Stephen Welsh could be left in isolation in the centre of the back-line and Hendry may yet have a future at Celtic.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Dundee United v Celtic at Tannadice this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.