Steve Bruce should urge Newcastle United to launch a summer swoop to sign Celtic-owned defender Jack Hendry and add a no-nonsense titan to his ranks at St. James’ Park.
According to the Mirror, the Magpies feature in a small clutch of Premier League sides monitoring Hendry’s situation ahead of the next transfer market.
Celtic are expected to recall the 25-year-old to Parkhead at the close of the current season, following a tremendous campaign on loan with Belgian Pro League side KV Oostende.
Hendry joined the Diaz Arena natives for the 2020/21 term after being shunned by previous Hoops boss Neil Lennon, who resigned last month, but he is expected to chase a second chance in Glasgow as he eyes a return to the Scotland national side.
The centre-half played just 11 minutes across all competitions during Lennon’s second tenure at Celtic, but has proven a key fixture of the Oostende line-up with starting roles in 21 of his 22 Pro League outings to date.
De Kustboys boss Alexander Blessin has been full of praise for the Glasgow-born defender, whose side have a £2m option to buy him, noting in November: “He’s a great talker in defence. He makes the people he’s playing with better. You can see them listening to him.
“He’s been a tower of experience for us. Jack’s the most important member of the team this season and he’s one of the best defenders in the league. When you get signed by a club the size of Celtic at such a young age, then you obviously must have a lot of qualities.”
Oostende could easily look to sign Hendry and flip him for profit in the summer market, with Newcastle, Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers said to be tracking his situation as he nears the final 12-months of his Celtic contract.
With funds expected to be tight at St. James’ Park in the off-season, Bruce may have to shop around for cheaper options to plug gaps in his defence and Hendry could emerge as a worthwhile solution if his future is not with Celtic.
Newcastle are at risk of losing Fabian Schar this summer, with the Swiss international said to be considering his options, while Federico Fernandez – who is also due to be a free agent at the end of the season – is yet to be offered a new contract despite ongoing negotiations.
It would obviously remain to be seen how much Oostende or Celtic may ask for, depending on the Belgian side taking up their option to purchase Hendry, but the 25-year-old is proving to be a no-nonsense type player who is hard for Pro League attackers to beat.
The three-cap Scotland international, who has not represented his national side since 2018, is only dribbled past 0.1 times per game in the Belgian top-flight this term, per SofaScore. He also offers 4.5 clearances to keep the danger away from Guillaume Hubert’s goal.
Hendry records 1.2 successful tackles a game, too, and plays the ball out from the back with 31.1 accurate passes – 23.8 in his own half – while providing a goal threat with 1.2 shots, as Oostende mount a surprise push for Champions League qualification.
Newcastle defenders Schar (0.8/1.5) and Jamaal Lascelles (0.8/0.9) have each offered fewer successful tackles per game in the Premier League this season, while Fernandez (0.3), Ciaran Clark (0.3), Isaac Hayden (0.5) and Schar (0.7) are each dribbled past more often when fielded at centre-half, per WhoScored.
Only summer free-agent Fernandez (5.6) and captain Lascelles (4.6) offer more clearances and more shots (1.3, 1.4 respectively) per game than Hendry, while no current natural Toon centre-back plays a higher number of accurate passes, per SofaScore.
Much is still to be decided with Hendry’s future, much like with Fernandez and Schar at Newcastle, however, the 6 ft 3 Hoops-owned enforcer should be a target for Bruce if United do look to add another member to his backline this summer.