Craig Bryson was frustrated. While keeping tabs on football in Scotland as a Derby County player, he was surrounded by folk south of the border quick to rubbish the standard. But as he returns to his homeland as an Aberdeen player, his hours in front of the tv watching Premiership coverage has paid dividends.

The 32-year-old left Kilmarnock for Pride Park eight years ago but always had his heart set on a return home.

From Aberdeen’s training camp at the luxurious Fota Island resort in Cork, Bryson said: “I was always watching Scottish football when it was on Sky or BT. I used to get quite frustrated. People down south looked down on Scottish football. I don’t know what it is. I think it’s a better league than it’s made out to be.

“I don’t know if it’s because some games are on Astroturf. Sometimes the stadiums aren’t full and I don’t know if some people just get a perception of it not being a great league. [But] look at some of the players who have played in the SPL and done well and they’ve gone down south and done really well. It used to annoy me.



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“I was always going to come back. 100 per cent. I’m not one that really fancies going abroad or the MLS. It was just deciding when to come back.”

While Bryson heads for the Granite City, he has heeded advice he gave himself to Max Lowe when he took the same path north last season. The left-back enjoyed a successful season at the Dons but returned to Derby at the end of the campaign when the second of his two six-month loan deals expired. He is now a Celtic and Rangers target.

“I spoke to Max when he was coming to Aberdeen and told him to go up to Scotland at a big club and if you play well then you never know what is going to happen.

“When I was coming, I just asked him about the boys and the manager and what it was like being up there. Max can’t speak highly enough of Aberdeen. I’ve basically followed my own advice. I already knew what the SPL was like and what Scotland was like from growing up watching it, then playing with Clyde and Kilmarnock. I wasn’t as blind as Max was.”

Bryson is also excited to play alongside Lewis Ferguson in the middle of the park at Pittodrie.


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“I really like him,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen in training and in some of the games I’ve watched him in. I’m looking forward to playing alongside and hopefully passing on my experience to him and watching him grow and become a better player and seeing what happens to him. From what I’ve seen, there’s no reason why he can’t go to the top.”

Aberdeen are understood to be keeping tabs on the situation of Dylan McGeouch, the former Hibernian midfielder who is considering his options at Sunderland. The midfielder has long been admired by Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes, who is weighing up an offer.

But as McInnes prepares for the new term, he has challenged young midfielder Dean Campbell to make an impact this season. The 18-year-old was on the fringes of the starting line-up last season and made some impressive showings.

“Hopefully he and some others can become more of a permanent fixture,” McInnes said. “For the younger ones we’ve had good examples of players making it through but it is not easy to become a regular in our team.”