Craig Bryson turned down Derby extension to seal Aberdeen switch

Craig Bryson on Scotland duty.
Craig Bryson on Scotland duty.

Craig Bryson turned down the chance to stay in the Championship with Derby County in favour of a new challenge back in Scotland with Aberdeen.

The 32 year-old has signed a pre-contract with the Dons and will join on a two-year deal despite a late bid from the Rams to keep him at Pride Park.

Former Kilmarnock midfielder Bryson will be the replacement for departing Dons captain Graeme Shinnie, who has left Pittodrie for a new challenge with Bryson’s former club Derby.

Kilmarnock, who sold Bryson to Derby for £450,000 in 2011, were keen to bring their former captain back to Rugby Park while Hearts boss Craig Levein also tried to sign the midfielder.

However, a prolonged close-season pursuit of the player paid off yesterday when Dons boss Derek McInnes won the race for the former Scotland international.

Bryson’s arrival at Pittodrie is coup for the Dons considering he is revered at Derby and was twice voted the club’s player of the year.

He had been offered a new deal by Rams boss Frank Lampard and McInnes will be understandably elated at filling the void left by his departed skipper with a quality replacement.

Bryson made 29 starts for the Rams in the Championship last season and also helped Cardiff City win promotion to the Premier League in 2017-18 whilst on loan.

He moves to Pittodrie having played 276 times for County in his eight-year career in English football. His deal with the Dons does not start until July 1 but Aberdeen boss McInnes hopes to have Bryson on board for next week’s pre-season training camp in Cork.

Bryson will make his competitive debut for Aberdeen in the Europa League first qualifying round on July 11 at Pittodrie against RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland, the same venue where he made his first Scotland appearance against the Faroe Island in November 2010.

Craig Bryson made his Scotland debut at Pittodrie.

Meanwhile, Dons fans face a scramble for tickets after the club was allocated just 200 briefs for the second leg.

The Finnish club’s stadium capacity is restricted to just 2,000 for European matches by UEFA with away tickets usually limited to 100.

However, Dons officials have negotiated 10% of the total allocation meaning they will have 200 tickets available for the second leg on Thursday, July 18.

A Dons official said: “While we appreciate that demand will inevitably exceed that number, it is a situation that is unfortunately out of our hands and only those supporters with the appropriate number of priority points can be offered the chance to purchase tickets.

“Given this situation, we would encourage as many fans as possible to attend the home game at Pittodrie on July 11 for our opening fixture of the new season and make it another special European night in Aberdeen.

“The club will be contacting those supporters who qualify over the next few days to offer them the chance to buy tickets for the away game.”

UEFA made the second round draw yesterday and the winners of the first round will face either Fola Esch of Luxembourg or Georgian team Chikhura Sachkhere in the second qualifying round.

Should Aberdeen progress the first leg will be played on Thursday, July 25 with the away leg taking place in Luxembourg or Georgia on Thursday, August 1.