Euan Henderson playing for new Hearts contract under Daniel Stendel
Teenager wants to stay involved and earn new deal at Tynecastle Park
Euan Henderson’s Hearts future is on the line with his contract expiring in May. Daniel Stendel’s arrival as manager may well be the lifeline he needs. The 19-year-old has featured in four of the last five matches as the youngster who has benefited most in the early week’s of the German’s tenure.
Long may it continue, from Henderson’s perspective. He knows his prospects of staying at Riccarton hinge on creating the right impression over the weeks and months ahead. He made only two senior appearances for Hearts this term prior to Craig Levein’s sacking but his pace and energy have been harnessed by the new incumbent.
The forward wants to stay involved beyond the end of the winter transfer window and earn himself a new deal for season 2020/21.
“The manager seems to be giving me a chance so he is obviously pleased with what he has seen so far from me,” Henderson told the Evening News. “Hopefully I can just keep doing what I’m doing, getting better and giving what he wants me to give on the pitch. I’d like all the minutes to keep adding up.
“My contract is up in a few months so I’m just working on myself and waiting to see what happens. All I can do is work hard and play. Then it’s the club’s decision if they want to sign me on again. It’s obviously a good thing getting minutes in the first team, so I would say things are more positive now.
“We will see what happens after January because you never know. Things might change quickly. I’m just focusing on what is happening right now. If I can, I can maybe sit down and discuss whether I’m going to get first-team games and where that will be. If it is here, then I have to work hard to play as many matches as I can. That’s what you want to be doing, playing games and getting better as a player.”
He is already improving under Stendel’s tutelage having warmed to the manager’s attacking demands. “He has taught me to always stay switched on,” revealed Henderson. “It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake while running with the ball, it’s all about reaction and winning it back for the team. You can’t be upset with yourself. If you make a mistake, you just have to get on with it, get the ball back and just keep attacking. I have enjoyed it so far.
“The manager hasn’t said much. He has just said he wants us to play as a team, press high and get after the ball quickly. He hasn’t been in that long so we haven’t really had big one-to-one chats. He is still working on the team but since he has come in I’ve been playing more. That’s been good for me.
“At the start of the season I was in there. When Levein got sacked I was out of it for a wee bit. I was just working hard on myself, coming in early and getting in the gym. I was waiting for my opportunity to get back in, play and show what I can do. It’s not my decision whether I start games or not but I’m always ready.”
Events over the last few weeks have also enlightened Henderson to the harsh realities of professional football. He started Hearts’ last match, a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen, and came on as a substitute in the previous fixture – a 2-0 home defeat by rivals Hibs which ended with a abuse from fans aimed at some Hearts players.
“It’s definitely great experience. I guess things can’t really get lower than what they are right now. It can only get better but this is still really good experience for a young player – especially for later in my career,” he said.
“You can understand why the fans have been angry. If I was in the stand, I wouldn’t be too pleased either. You know that, if you lose a derby at home, it isn’t going to be great. We are aware of that and we are trying to change things quickly to get something going.”