Craig Bryson was supposed to be the new Graeme Shinnie for Aberdeen, bringing energy, desire and large dollops of nous to the Dons midfield.

Pittodrie manager Derek McInnes couldn’t have been more pleased that the former Kilmarnock playmaker chose his club to round-off a stellar career, even though he arrived with an ankle problem following his release from Derby County last summer.

That the injury took longer than expected to respond to treatment and was followed by difficulties with his other ankle, meant his appearances in a red shirt have been limited to ten, principally as a substitute.

He played the last half-hour in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Celtic and now Funso Ojo has been ruled out because of a 15-stitches gash across his knee following a clash with his own goalkeeper, Joe Lewis, during that game, Bryson is in line to start at Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup fifth round replay tomorrow night.

McInnes certainly can’t wait for the 33-year-old to bring much-needed influence to his midfield before the fans forget the three-times capped player is still on the books.

"We have totally missed Shinnie,” McInnes said, “but I don't think we would have missed him as much if Bryson had been available. That's because I see a lot of similarities between them as Bryson inspires his team-mates and inspire supporters.

"He chases lost causes and he runs beyond strikers and has an unbelievable engine, as Shinnie does.

"Sometimes that desire that goes along with the quality that both players have got is a huge attraction for me. When I knew we were losing Shinnie I thought Bryson was the one who would replace him.”

Shinnie, who joined Derby in the summer, is also battling injury at the moment, but McInnes is aware of his loss to the Aberdeen team and how difficult it was to identify a replacement who could offer the Dons the midfield spark they needed.

He said: "Craig was my marquee signing and even when he's been running in the last couple of weeks he looks like he's good to go.

"Obviously there are a few players who are not quite up to speed because of a lack of matches but he looks like the player we thought we had signed.

"It has been so frustrating for him, me and everyone at the club because we made such a big effort to get him here.

"But now we are coming to the business end of the season and it might just be the perfect time for him to come back.

"I was playing wingers in there and defenders like Zak Vyner and Greg Leigh in midfield at times as we were shoe-horning people into the team.

"We needed that to try and get a job done and a lot of them did that very well but I do think you need players to be in their right positions.”

Aberdeen go to Kilmarnock with an attacking performance against Celtic behind them which was impressive, if fruitless.

Knowing that Bryon is ready to start, however, McInnes will feel more confident of reaching the last eight of the competition.

He said: “Dean Campbell has got better this season and he has improved in the last few months.

"Dylan McGeouch, when he gets up to full speed, will be really influential for us, too.

"We have probably relied on Lewis Ferguson a bit too much like we did with striker Sam Cosgrove over the period, but having more of our recognised midfielders available can be vital for us.”