FOR Liam Henderson, attempting to navigate the pathway to regular first-team football at Celtic is as troublesome as trying to manoeuvre around the new Raith Interchange using a Greek sat nav.

The young midfielder was in the fast lane to success during his loan stint at Hibs last season. First name on the team sheet under Alan Stubbs, Henderson was an integral part of the history-making collective who famously claimed the Scottish Cup back in May.

Since returning to Glasgow, the pace of his progression, at least in terms of minutes, has slowed somewhat. Going from playing 48 times for the Hibees last term, the 20-year-old has started just six games for the Premiership champions this term. Only seven substitute appearances bring the total to 13.

The reason for this is simple, the talented midfielder is a victim of circumstance. The landscape he left prior to his switch to Easter Road is far different to the one he returned to. In direct competition he now finds the rejuvenated pairing of Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, while Australian Tom Rogic completes a hat-trick of internationalists in his way.

It is a long way from the steep-but-rewarding learning curve provided by Hibs last year, but there is no hint of complaining from the young man who has been in green and white hoops since he was 12.

“It’s been brilliant being back at Celtic,” he told SportTimes. “I’ve enjoyed every minute under Brendan Rodgers. He’s been unbelievable for me.

“I’ve learned so much. We are training at a high level every day and playing. When I’ve been given the opportunity I feel that I’ve done my justice. It’s been a brilliant season for me.

“Celtic is a massive club. At the end of the day they are a Champions League club. You can see Broony and Stu playing for the national team the other night, Tom Rogic has played for Australia every time he’s away.

“I’m only 20. For me I just need to keep working away. It’s not going to get handed to me on a plate.

“Celtic is the biggest club in Scotland and I need to keep working and learning every day. I need to keep learning off these boys.

“He’s always said to me since he came in that he’ll give young boys a chance and that if you are good enough he will have no hesitation about putting you in.

“I’m delighted to be at Celtic under Brendan.”

Not daunted by those in front of him, Henderson seeks to take inspiration from their experience and recent endeavours. Under both Ricky Sbragia and now Scot Gemmill he has become a key part of the Scotland Under-21 setup. He is now their captain.

Just days before he led his nation out against Estonia at Paisley last month, he watched on with pride as six of his club mates – Brown, Armstrong, Kieran Tierney, Craig Gordon, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths – all started in Scotland’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Slovenia.

It is a platform Henderson admits he dreams about.

“It’s brilliant,” he said of the Celtic influence. “I look at the six of them who played and they were all magnificent from my club. I also look at [John] McGinn who is my good friend. He’s been getting in the squads as well.

“For me it’s about trying to make the step up to the national team. I just need to keep working hard at my club and with the u21s.

“The quicker I can get to the A squad then the better for me.

“You have to be technically good enough, you have to be tactically good enough as well to go straight in at that level. They won’t just throw you in for any reason.

“If I can keep doing what I’m doing with the u21s and try and force myself into the Celtic first team, and playing every week, I don’t see why I can’t play for the national team.”

That Scotland U21 team came under criticism in the wake of that Estonia match as the 0-0 result meant it is now a year since our colts last scored a goal.

It is a criticism Henderson feels is unfair given how this is a different group of players and the fact the squad only play a small handful of games each year.

Their first Euro qualifier comes in September against the Netherlands and the Celtic player believes there is plenty potential for him and his players to make the nation proud.

He said: “It’s been good. All the boys on this trip are a really good bunch. We have all gelled quite quickly.

“I thought we were unlucky not to beat Estonia but they put up a good fight. On another day I think we would have got a win.

“We don’t play every week. It’s not a year, it’s maybe just a few games. It’s a stupid statement in my eyes.

“We are on track. We are playing as a team and I’m really positive going into the European campaign we will do ourselves justice.

“We all get on, we are all pals. We are close this bunch. It’s one that will excite the fans for the future.”