Callum Hendry’s early recall from a season-long loan at Brechin City came as a surprise to the St Johnstone striker.
And the young forward is determined to take full advantage of it.
A broken wrist disrupted Hendry’s first half of the season at Glebe Park after he had made a promising start.
The 21-year-old expected to see out the campaign with the League One side but being brought back to McDiarmid Park has presented an even better opportunity in the Premiership.
“I’m delighted to be back here and it’s good the manager has brought me back in,” he said.
“The loan to Brechin didn’t go the way I’d hoped because I started well but then broke my wrist and missed seven weeks.
“It happened against Raith Rovers. I just fell on that plastic pitch and heard it snap so I knew I was in trouble straight away.
“They put a cast on it but the refs wouldn’t let me play with it on.
“I got Brechin to speak to the SFA about it but they said that the kind of cast I had was dangerous to other players.
“There wasn’t another option because the kind of break I had meant they need to put a solid one around it.
“So that kept me out for ages and when I got back the manager had changed.
“Barry Smith had come in and he was really good with me – I enjoyed the training and stuff.
“I thought I would be staying there until the summer but the gaffer phoned me up on the Thursday before the Hearts game to say he was bringing me back.
“Although I didn’t play as much as I had hoped, the experience was a good one and I have learned from it.
“The matches I did play were tough and they were physical, so it was good to get that exposure to first team football.
“I see it as a positive experience, it has toughened me up and now I want to show everyone at St Johnstone I’ve come back a better player.”
Hendry has been coming off the bench since his return and had it not been for Kris Ajer bringing him down in the dying moments of Sunday’s game against Celtic, he may have scored.
“With Chris Kane injured and David McMillan away to Hamilton, there is a chance there to make a claim,” he said.
“I got on at Hearts and felt I did OK, but I didn’t have any chances.
“And I’m just gutted I got brought down against Celtic because I think I would have run through and scored.
“So that’s frustrating but hopefully I’ve done enough in the two sub appearances to show the manager bringing me back was a good idea.
“We have a busy schedule with two games a week for a while so everyone will be needed.”
Hendry made his first start for Saints at Hamilton in December 2017 and will be hoping for more game-time in Lanarkshire tonight.
He said: “I made my first start against Hamilton, but I’m a far better player now.
“I am fitter, stronger and I have more experience.
“Last season I had a lot of niggles and missed a chunk as well.
“Because of what I’ve been through, even though I’m 21 now I’m probably only 19 in football terms.
“I have been through bad periods with injury and three years ago when I did my knee I didn’t think I’d be a footballer at all.
“So I’m grateful to be in the position I’m in. I didn’t think I’d be where I am now.
“Instead of getting frustrated, I know I have to be patient because I’m still learning.
“I don’t look at other 21-year-olds in the league and think ‘look at him, I should be in the team every week’ because things have panned out differently for me.
“I’m still learning every day and have to be patient, that’s why the manager sent me out on loan in the first place.
“If the gaffer wants me to play I’m ready and I know all I can do is wait for my chances then use the time on the pitch the best I can to show him I deserve more.”