JACK HENDRY will have to be up for the battle of competing for a place in the Celtic first team.

That’s the no-nonsense verdict from Hoops boss Neil Lennon who insists the forgotten man must meet the challenge “head on”.

Scotland international defender, who was bought by ex-gaffer Brendan Rodgers from Dundee for £1.2million in January 2018, looked to be on his way from Parkhead in the summer transfer window.

He was linked with Kilmarnock as makeweight in the deal for Greg Taylor, but the Rugby Park outfit were adamant they wanted a straight cash transaction and the champions paid £2.25million for the 21-year-old left-back.

Hendry has remained at the club and Lennon has thrown down the gauntlet to the cultured back-four operator, who can play right-back and centre-half, to prove he is worthy of a spot in his squad.

The Hoops boss, speaking in The Sun, said: “We will work away with Jack and get him up to speed, he has been out for a long time with injury.

“It’s going to be difficult for him, but it’s down to him to take it head on.”

Hendry made only eight starts and 12 appearances in total in the historic treble treble campaign and has struggled for game time this time out.

The 24-year-old has yet to play in the top side and has dropped down the pecking order, despite centre-backs Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic leaving the club in the summer.

Lennon has spent £7million on Christopher Jullien from Toulouse and has preferred to utilise midfield man Nir Bitton in the middle of the rearguard in the enforced absence of the injured Jozo Simunovic.

Hendry knows exactly what he must contribute to gatecrash Lennon’s future plans.

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