ALEX McLEISH made up his mind that Jack Hendry was international class after 31 minutes.
The returning Scotland boss was impressed by the defender when he came on during 10-man Celtic’s 3-2 win at Ibrox earlier this month.
Brendan Rodgers had to reorganise his team following the red card for Jozo Simunovic and sent on Hendry for Tom Rogic in the 59th minute.
McLeish, a former Scotland and Aberdeen centre-half, witnessed the youngster, who joined the Hoops from Dundee at the end of January, display some extraordinary qualities in a pressurised situation.
He said: “I brought Jack in because I saw him in one game – he came on as a sub for Celtic against Rangers.
“I loved his composure for a young kid coming into that game. I thought: ‘I’m going to do a wild card here’. Thankfully, my eyes were correct.
“We did some team work last week. With Jack, there were a couple of things in training I pointed out to him.
“I can’t tell him everything in one night, but we made him aware of Hungary’s strikers.”
Hendry made his senior debut in the 1-0 win in Budapest on Tuesday night and McLeish also revealed the Hoops kid and Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna had gone through specialised training before the friendly.
Big Eck set up routines to help the defenders improve their heading skills.
The Scots boss said: “A lot of centre-halves nowadays don’t head the ball.
“But when you look at the top teams, they have fantastic centre-halves who are aggressive in the air – Ramos with Real Madrid, Pique with Barcelona.
“And they can play, as well. If we can nurture guys such as Jack, I’m sure Brendan Rodgers would have been delighted to see his performance, as would Derek McInnes with Scott.
The gaffer views the back-four operators as the future backbone of the national team’s rearguard with Hendry 22 years of age and McKenna one year younger.
McLeish said: “They are even bigger than I was.
“I would love to see these guys going on to get many, many caps for Scotland.”
McKenna now has two, Hendry one. They are a long way from the 77 amassed by McLeish during his days at Pittodrie.
Read more from Celtic Quick News …
- ‘WHY CELTS MUST GO FOR McGINN,’ EX-STAR
- ‘I’VE ALWAYS BACKED MY ABILITY,’ HENDRY
- ‘AJER DESERVES RISE TO TOP,’ COACH
- ‘THE DEBT I OWE TO STRACHAN,’ BROONY
- ‘I WANT TO STAY AT CELTIC,’ BAIN
- RODGERS HAILS HENDRY, AJER
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