BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson admits knowing that Celtic are keeping a close watch has given him a huge lift.
The on loan teenager is desperate to help Alan Stubbs’ side achieve their aim of climbing back to the Premiership during his season-long stay.
Henderson has made nine appearances for the Leith outfit since moving to Easter Road as part of the deal that took Scott Allan in the opposite direction.
But the 19-year-old is in no danger of becoming a forgotten man with the Hoops.
Celtic assistant manager John Collins and coach John Kennedy have both been in touch over the phone, while head of youth development Chris McCart has been a regular at Easter Road.
Although Henderson is adamant that he will not be distracted over his long-term plan to become a first team regular at Parkhead, he is thrilled that his employers are keeping tabs on him.
Henderson, who spent three months on loan at Norwegian side Rosenborg towards the end of last term, said: “John Kennedy and John Collins have been in touch asking how I am enjoying it and they said they would try and get along, which is good for me.
“It’s good that Chris is coming along and watching me too, it gives you that incentive that they’re not forgetting about you.
“They’re always keeping tabs on you and keeping in touch with you, which 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.
“But I’m here for a year on loan and that’s all I’m solely 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 helping the boys on the pitch as well.”
Henderson, who has notched three goals for Hibs, has become an integral part of Stubbs’ side.
And following a week that saw Stubbs take the squad paintballing, the playmaker admits there is a great bond in the dressing room.
He added: “We went paintballing on Tuesday and it was a good laugh. Darren McGregor, who was in my team, was magnificent for us. He got man of the match because he was stealing all the flags.
“I hid at the start but I managed to get myself out there.
“You need these team bonding days, it’s good for morale. It was a good day out.
“It’s a really tight group, everybody has a great laugh during the week at training but when it’s serious when we have to play and train, everyone gets focused for that.
“It’s a great squad to be involved in, you spend most of your day laughing. It’s a really good team environment.
“It’s a young team and we’re all about the same age. We talk about the same stuff, we like to go out for dinner and we enjoy playing together.
“If you have a good relationship off the park, then on the field it can only help.”
The players get back to the serious work of the Championship today, with the visit of Dumbarton marking the start of an exhausting run of six matches in three weeks.
Clashes with fellow top four sides Falkirk, Raith Rovers and Rangers are included in that sequence.
Henderson added: “It’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. We’re all looking forward to it.”