IT’S an occasional retort that comes with the territory as a football reporter.

“What would you know? Have you ever kicked a ball?”

Equally, it can be tempting to ask the critic whether they have ever sat there and written a match report and all that surrounds it to be finished bang on the final whistle.

Well, City loanee Luke Hendrie can say he’s experienced both sides of the fence when it comes to football and the media.

The 23-year-old defender has earned a first-class honours degree in professional sports writing and broadcasting.

It was a two-year course run by the Professional Footballers’ Association in partnership with Staffordshire University.

Hendrie took it up while on Derby’s books after his interest in the media had been pricked with dad John’s work on TV, radio and as a regular T&A columnist.

He said: “Jason Lee, the ex-Nottingham Forest striker, came in for a PFA meeting at Derby and was telling the under-18s and 23s about it.

“There must have been about 40 lads in the room and 39 of them fell asleep! I think I was the only one paying any attention.

“I found the other side of it quite interesting. Writing match reports and the facts and the stats that you need.

“There’s a lot that goes into it that you don’t think about. It’s the same with the TV.

“It’s nice to see both sides and understand how it works.

“I’ve done a couple of interviews when I’ve done work placements but I’m not great at speaking. I prefer to write.

“It was quite weird sitting there with the microphone and asking questions and the player I’m talking to is probably thinking ‘he was rubbish in training today, why’s he asking me this question?’!

“But a few of my friends, who are footballers, have started doing it as well, so it’s good it’s rubbed off on other people. I never thought I’d have a degree but I’ve done it now and graduated first class.

“You never know when I might need it – next week or in 15 years’ time. But it’s something that will stand me in good stead for the future.”

The here and now is very much focused on Valley Parade and fulfilling a boyhood dream.

It may be a half-season loan from Burnley but it is obvious how much it means to Hendrie to pull on the claret and amber shirt. He said: “It’s a club that’s always been close to my heart. It’s where I started and I grew up supporting them throughout the years.

“There aren’t many people who get the opportunity to play for their boyhood club.”

Hendrie could have returned sooner. He spent the 2015 pre-season with Phil Parkinson’s squad, touring in Scotland and playing the friendlies.

But as a novice with no experience behind him, he knew opportunities would be strictly limited.

“Looking back, there was Stephen Darby and Tony McMahon (in front of me). The club wanted to do something with me but I probably wasn’t ready at that time.

“It was a tough decision because I wanted to join. But for the good of my career, I had to go away.

“That was a couple of years ago and it’s just crazy how your paths cross again. Now I just want to make the most of the opportunity.”

With head ruling heart, Hendrie instead went off to learn at the coal face with unglamorous stints at the wrong end of League Two with Hartlepool and York, before playing the whole of last season in Scotland for Kilmarnock.

He said: “I’ll always be thankful for Hartlepool for giving me my footballing debut. Unfortunately I got injured there and went back (to Burnley) but then joined York.

“At the time it was really tough. I learned more probably off the pitch than on it.

“But I went there as a boy and it turned me into a man.

“The manager Jackie McNamara played in the same position and he took a lot of time out to help. I definitely left York a better player.

“I was thrown in at the deep end but it was the best thing for me. It really opens your eyes to other things.

“York are a really good club and maybe sometimes you have to go down to come back stronger. Hopefully that will be the case and we’ll see them back in the Football League in the next few years.”