They say home is where the heart is.  

For Stuart Findlay, that home is Rugby Park. 

The 27-year-old yesterday returned for his fourth spell at Kilmarnock after agreeing a one-year loan move from Oxford United.  

The defender enjoyed the best years of his career so far working under Steve Clarke in Ayrshire, helping Killie to finish third in the 2018/19 season. His impressive form earned him a big-money move to the MLS in the United States around two and a half years ago. He also scored a debut goal for Scotland in his one and only national team cap.  

Things didn’t quite work out at Philadelphia Union, likewise at Oxford. But Findlay knows if he can perform to the best of his abilities working under Derek McInnes, then the path back to the international setup isn’t out of the question. 

“I drove up on Thursday and I had an idea of the interest early in the week but they take some time,” Findlay beamed. “As soon as I got the text from my agent to say Oxford had given me the green light to move I was straight in the car. I joined the lovely Manchester rush hour to get here but I was delighted to be back. 

“I spoke to Oxford at the start of pre-season and they were honest with me which I appreciated. I wasn’t the manager’s signing and he was going a different way and he asked me if a loan was something I would consider. 

“At the time I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do but then my mind was quickly made up when Kilmarnock came in for me. It’s not that long since I was here but I have always been open in saying I wanted to come back one day and people know what it means to me. I would have been daft not to take the chance to come back here. 

“I think I have learned a lot since I have been away and I have more experience behind me. The club are getting a better all-round package than the one who signed under Steve Clarke. 

“I signed as a boy the first time but I am a man now. I am ready to pass on my experience instead of being the one who needs it. 

“The last time I was here I had Kirk Broadfoot and Alex Bruce to help me but now I want to help the younger boys. I want to show why the gaffer brought me back.

“The memories are endless and not just the big games I scored in. Clinching third place against Rangers in the last game, big Scottish Cup nights here - when this club is going well, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

“The fans really want to get behind the team. It’s our job on the pitch to give them something to get behind and hopefully that’s what we will do this season."

READ MORE: Derek McInnes sets Danny Armstrong Kilmarnock challenge

On Scotland, Findlay revealed he has remained in contact with Clarke, as he detailed his last encounter with his ex-Killie manager. 

He said: “Everyone wants to play for their country and I am no different. But I can’t say I am here to get into the squad as I know how well they are doing. 

“I have always been the same, when I come to a club, if you do well there then anything can happen. The most important thing is Kilmarnock have brought me back and I have to repay that faith. I have to do the club and fans proud and you never know what happens in football

“I’ve spoken to him (Clarke) once or twice. I had a good chat with him when I was at Oxford last season. 

“He is a guy I respect highly. If I ever need something football-wise, he is always someone I would pick up the phone to. He is someone whose opinion I trust immensely. 

“I told everyone until I was blue in the face that he would do a great job for Scotland after he left Kilmarnock. So far, I’ve been proven right. It’s no coincidence he has them playing the way they are. It’s very similar to how he used to get us playing at Kilmarnock. 

“It would be my dream to get back playing for him with Scotland but I know that’s not on the cards at the moment. 

“I get that, I’m not delusional. But if I have a good season for Kilmarnock, the way I know I could and that I have in the past, then you never know what could happen.” 

McInnes added: “In my time as a manager, we’ve always found left-sided defenders difficult to get. Over the years we managed to get some good ones. But last season it was a real struggle.  

“We’ve done our work early this time around with Robbie (Deas) and Corrie (Ndaba), two terrific signings for us. Getting Stuart in was one where we feel he can really lean on his experience.  

“He made it clear he wanted to be here as well. There were a lot of Scottish clubs interested. But once I spoke to Stuart a couple of weeks ago he said he was keen to come back.  

“He knows the club inside-out. I saw the reaction from people who have been here a while when they saw Stuart walking back through the door, he’s obviously a very popular boy, which is important.

“He was still speaking to a few of the lads here. I tried to sign him in January but we couldn’t get him as Oxford wanted to hold on to him. I spoke to Karl Robinson last pre-season as we were sharing the same training complex, and they were delighted to have signed him. It’s not quite worked out for Stuart and there’s been a change of manager at Oxford since.

“The opportunity came to get him on loan. He’s still got three years left on his deal. We’re absolutely delighted to get him.

“I really feel Stuart’s knowledge of the club and the league will be key for us. Having that real healthy competition across the back is important.

“We’ve got some younger players at the back who haven’t really played at Premiership level, then we’ve got Joe Wright’s experience. We’re still looking to bring in another right-sided defender. All the centre-backs we’ve got can all play full-back as well, so it’s nice to have that flexibility.

“There’s still more work to do to get that balance in the squad, but if you’ve got the opportunity to sign someone of Stuart’s abilities then you’ve got to work hard to get there.”