Liam Donnelly gave Derek McInnes his word that if he was to continue playing in Scotland, he’d sign for Kilmarnock.

The Northern Ireland midfielder was as good as his word as he penned a fresh two-year contract at Rugby Park yesterday.

The 27-year-old spent last season in Ayrshire having left Motherwell after four years. He made 27 appearances for the club in all competitions, helping them to secure their Premiership status.

He departed at the end of the 2022/23 campaign as he held off on deciding his future. But the holding midfielder is now back, and McInnes is pleased he finally got his eleventh capture of the summer.

“I am delighted to get him back but it took a bit longer than we would have liked,” the boss admitted. “We would like to have got him in sooner but clubs and managers are all selfish, you all want the players to arrive at that decision quicker.

“But we have to understand that there is more to it than football, there is family to consider and everyone’s circumstances are different.

“I take great comfort from what Liam said to me six weeks ago if he was staying in Scotland he gave me his word he would sign for us. A few days ago a Scottish club offered him far more money but he wanted to come here. 

“It is a great signing as I think he plays that No.6 role better than any player we have. We have a lot of players who do their best work as an eight and running forward, but we needed someone who plays more connected to the backline like Liam is vital.

“There were a lot of occasions last season when he had a real influence on us but the test for him and us is to get him on the park more.

READ MORE: Kilmarnock set to re-sign Liam Donnelly with terms agreed

“A lot of people don’t see his influence, he does a lot of his good work that goes unnoticed. He might not be the flashiest midfielder but he does a lot of important work for the team.

“I am delighted that we have him and hopefully we can get him up to speed as quickly as possible. He is another signing that we wanted for that key position, so we feel that is another box ticked.”

Donnelly will understandably take a bit of time to get up to the speed of the rest of his teammates given he’s missed pre-season training.

Although, the midfielder will be available for selection ahead of this weekend’s Premiership opener against Rangers.

Kyle Vassell and Rory McKenzie will also be ready for action, but the match will likely come too soon for Joe Wright.

Killie may have signed plenty of players in the window, but they also released a large number. A total of 15 left the building in June, and 11 have since entered. McInnes is grateful for the backing he’s had from the board, as he revealed the striker they’re working towards signing may take a while yet.

He added: “I am grateful to the board for supporting everything we have done. We still want to be better in the forward area and get more firepower but it might take a bit longer to get in. Ideally, we would want one before Saturday before the first league game and the importance of that.

“But if we don’t then hopefully we can get the one we really want and one we feel can help us this season. We need more pace, power, and goals and hopefully, we can bring that in before the window closes.

“A lot of boys left last season and we had a lot in on loan who went back to their parent clubs. There won’t be that many going out. I don’t think we have too many in the one position to lose many.”