EUAN HENDERSON didn’t need to think twice about becoming the latest Hearts starlet to pen a new deal.
And he is praying his pal Aaron Hickey remains at Tynecastle to be part of the Jambos’ youth revolution.
Henderson, 19, has committed his future to the capital club until the summer of 2022 after making an impressive impact following the appointment of Daniel Stendel in December.
The powerful wide-man has revealed that he wasn’t even training with the first-team prior to Stendel’s arrival but, following some swift research, was convinced he could dazzle the German.
So it proved, with Henderson making 11 appearances under Stendel, scoring his first goal for the club against Airdrie and playing a role in memorable triumphs over Rangers and Hibernian.
After inking his new deal, Henderson said: “It was an easy decision. Last season the manager started to put his trust in me and show faith that I could do a job for the team.
“When any manager is coming in, you do a little bit of research into what style he likes to play and what he expects from his team.
“It seemed like I had some of the attributes he liked – fast, powerful and someone that can cover the pitch and press players.
“So I thought I had a chance to make an impact.
“I wasn’t training with the first-team before he arrived so I was spending time in the gym, getting stronger and making sure that when the opportunity came, I’d be ready to take it. Thankfully I did quite well.
“I’m determined to go back after this break, keep improving and go even further next season.”
Henderson’s decision to commit to the Gorgie men comes just a week after fellow starlet Lewis Moore penned a two-year extension. Talks are ongoing with Jamie Brandon over a new deal.
With Andy Irving also being afforded plenty of chances to shine under Stendel, the emphasis on youth is clear – with 17-year-old Aaron Hickey leading the charge.
The precocious defender has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Celtic, Lazio and Southampton as suitors sense a potential bargain due to Hearts’ league woes.
Henderson has his fingers crossed that Hickey will still be wearing maroon when their new campaign eventually starts – but knows that is out of his hands.
He continued: “Aaron is a good lad to have in the changing room, we all get on really well and he’s obviously a top player.
“We all want him to stay – but that’s his decision and you’ve got to respect that.
“He doesn’t say too much about anything! So he definitely hasn’t told us what he is thinking about the future.
“Every manager and every club wants consistency so it’s easy to see why his reputation is growing.
“Aaron has come into the side and has immediately started playing like a seasoned pro, which is the toughest thing for a young player.”
While the make-up of the Hearts squad for next term will be is shrouded in uncertainty, the same can be said for the future of their head coach.
Despite penning a two-and-a-half-year deal in December, a relegation break clause means Stendel has no contract to manage the Jambos in the Championship.
Owner Ann Budge is desperately seeking to salvage their top-flight status by supporting reconstruction efforts but, should she fail, there could be a change in the dugout.
He added: “Of course we all want to see the gaffer back. It felt like we were building something.
“I know it didn’t quite click enough to get us off the bottom before the league stopped, but there was a real feeling that progress was being made.”