St Johnstone assistant boss Callum Davidson can see teenage striker Callum Hendry going from strength to strength – especially if some “Macca mentor magic” rubs off on him.
The 19-year-old, who is the son of former Scotland legend Colin, made his competitive debut for Saints from the bench against Motherwell at McDiarmid on Saturday.
Hendry Junior, who started his career at Blackburn, has bounced back from a couple of serious injuries and Davidson admits he has already exceeded expectations.
However, he envisages further improvement if he heeds the advice from senior striker Steven MacLean.
Davidson said: “Callum had a couple of bad cruciate injuries when he was younger. That put back his development so he has been unfortunate.
“We had him up here for a week towards the end of last season when Blackburn indicated he would be released.
“We liked what we saw and thought we’d give him a chance.
“We planned to use him as an over-age player for the Under-20s as he is over the limit by a month or so.
“But since coming in at the start of this season he has been brilliant and exceeded our expectations and hopefully his own.
“You can see Callum has got ability, awareness of other people, he can link the play and he scores goals out of nothing. He also has the workrate which is so important in our team.
“He has been working hard and he still has a bit to learn. But he has already graduated into the first-team squad and got his debut against Motherwell off the bench.”
Davidson added: “Coming out of an academy system Callum probably wasn’t used to the intensity of our training. It’s tough for our own lads. I don’t think you can replicate it.
“If he doesn’t track runners here someone will be onto him.
“He has to learn and Steven MacLean isn’t a bad player to model himself on.
“Macca will take him under his wing. He is brilliant at that, as we saw with Stevie May. It is such a key role in the team and Macca will help with Callum’s runs and his movement.
“He knows the game, he is so knowledgeable. Callum should certainly listen and learn from him if he wants to get better.”
Davidson knows Hendry’s dad well and he sees similar qualities between the father and son.
However, the McDiarmid assistant admits he does not see Hendry Junior following in his father’s footsteps and making a move into defence.
He added: “I played with Colin at Blackburn and for Scotland. That was a long time ago.
“Callum has the same spring as his dad and that takes people by surprise.
“Colin actually started his career as a striker but I don’t see Callum dropping back into central defence. He has too much ability for that!
“But seriously, his dad was an outstanding defender who loved a tackle and head the ball away.
“Callum has a different make-up to his game and he is very good technically.
“These are an important six months for him coming up.”