Jay Henderson looks up to the likes of Aston Villa star John McGinn and Kenny McLean – and the teenage midfielder wants to walk a similar path at St Mirren.
The 19-year-old midfielder signed a new deal with St Mirren last week that keeps him at the club until 2023, coming days after an impressive showing against Ross County in his first start. McGinn and McLean were both in the Paisley academy and the graduates will play each other in the Premier League next season for Aston Villa and Norwich City.
Seeing St Mirren academy stars move to clubs like Aston Villa is brilliant for Henderson, who wants to reach such heights himself: “I’m absolutely buzzing to sign my new deal. I am aiming to cement myself in the first-team and play on the pitch for as long as I can. The next couple of years are an important stage in my career.
“These two years will be good for me. Of course I look up to guys like John McGinn and Kenny McLean. With the career these guys have had, coming through the youth academy at St Mirren as well through the youth academy, how good these guys are doing in the Premier League and Scotland. That’s an aim for me.
“They are the role-models of the club for younger boys like me in the academy. The manager tells me to work as hard as I can and work hard everyday, be confident in myself and take my chance when it comes. It’s good for me and I am absolutely delighted.”
Manager Jim Goodwin is glad to have him tied down long-term: “Young players get an opportunity at St Mirren. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how old they are, if we believe they’re old enough we’ll throw them in. We’ve proved that already this year.
“We’ve given debuts to Lewis Jamieson, Dylan Reid, Jay Henderson and again on Wednesday night to Daniel Finlayson. I’m really pleased to get Jay tied down. The wee man has been training with the first team since I came in really. We sent him out on loan to Clyde at the start of the season but it didn’t quite work out as well as we’d have liked.
“We brought him back in January. He’s trained really, really well and has earned the opportunity to make his debut and first start on Wednesday. We’ve been talking to him for a little while about his contract situation. We see Jay playing a big part in the future and I’m delighted he’s agreed. We’ve had a number of success stories from our academy.”
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