Jack Hendry: Celtic centre-half a 'better player' for Scotland after Oostende loan

Jack Hendry (centre) trains with Scotland
Jack Hendry (centre) last played for Scotland in 2018
World Cup qualifying Group F: Scotland v Austria
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 25 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW/online; text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Jack Hendry feels he is better equipped for Scotland duty second time around after going toe-to-toe with "top strikers" in the Belgian Pro League.

The 25-year-old centre-half has been called up for the first time since earning three caps in 2018.

Hendry has helped Oostende to fourth spot while on loan from Celtic.

"I feel I've developed in these last six months or so in Belgium," he said. "I feel I am a better player, a better person on and off the pitch."

Hendry played only four more times for Celtic after earning his third cap against Portugal and that was followed by an injury hit spell on loan to Melbourne City.

However, he has blossomed in 24 appearances, all but one of them starts, for Oostende.

"The most important thing for me is that I'm coming into this squad with games under my belt, with confidence," he said. "Maybe the last time I didn't have that run of games.

"With the games, you learn so much. I'm ready to go, fully fit and with a lot of confidence coming off the back of some good team and individual performances with Oostende."

Hendry joined a side who finished 15th last season, but Saturday's 1-0 win away to Excel Mouscron kept them ahead of Anderlecht on goal difference and to within a point of third-top Genk.

"I think we've got the third best defence over in Belgium," he said. "For that team, it's a massive achievement.

"Out there in Belgium, if you look at the league, there are some top teams in it and even the teams you might not know, they've got good quality forward players. That's what you want as a defender to bring on your game - to be facing top-quality strikers week-in week-out and I feel I've been doing that in Belgium."

With Scotland having been short of right-sided central defenders in recent squads, Hendry feels ready to face Austria as Steve Clarke's side prepare to start their World Cup qualification campaign at Hampden Park on Thursday.

"Playing against international strikers, it maybe helps coming to a squad like this that I'm used to playing at that level and feel I can play at that level and go further," he added.

"I feel that I've competed at a real good level and against top strikers and, if anyone has watched those games, they can see how good a defender I can be."

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