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Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin backs fit-again winger Matty Kennedy to be a ‘big player’ this season

Aberdeen's Matty Kennedy during the 7-1 friendly defeat of Brechin City.
Aberdeen's Matty Kennedy during the 7-1 friendly defeat of Brechin City.

Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin is confident pain-free winger Matty Kennedy can be a “big player” this season.

Last season was wrecked for the 27-year-old by a long-running back problem.

Northern Ireland international Kennedy was restricted to only three starts in the 2021-22 campaign, having been diagnosed with two stress fractures.

In a bid to get his Dons career on track again, Kennedy sacrificed his summer break to work on preparing for the new campaign.

That extra work paid off as he has started the season with a bang with two goals and impressive performances.

Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy scores with a free-kick to make it 3-0 against Stirling Albion.

Goodwin said: “I think Matty can be a big player for us.

“We have seen what he is capable of already.

“Matty is almost like a new signing this year because of how little he featured last season.

“I’m delighted for Matty as he has had a horrendous time last year with the injuries.

“Hopefully Matty will go from strength to strength now.”

Matty Kennedy celebrates making it 2-0 for Aberdeen against Dumbarton.

Impressive start from Kennedy

Having struggled with pain during pre-season last year, Kennedy was diagnosed with the stress fractures in his back.

Following that confirmation, Kennedy was told he had to do nothing for 12 weeks. It was the start of a long road back to recovery.

Kennedy underlined his emergence from a season of injury hell by netting in both pre-season friendlies against Buckie Thistle (2-1) and Brechin City (7-1).

Aberdeen winger Matty Kennedy takes on Peterhead's Andy McDonald
Aberdeen winger Matty Kennedy takes on Peterhead’s Andy McDonald.

In the opening Premier Sports Cup game, he won the penalty which was converted by Christian Ramirez.

Kennedy then netted in back-to-back games against Dumbarton (2-0) and Stirling Albion (5-0).

The goal against Stirling was a superb, curling 25-yard free-kick.

Hard work in the summer pays off

Right-sided winger Callum Roberts was this week signed for £100,000 on a three-year deal from Notts County.

Goodwin has overseen a summer transfer window overhaul of the squad at a cost in excess of £1 million in transfer fees.

However, before the end of last season he also made key changes to the back-room staff at Pittodrie.

One of those was the appointment of Kevin Bain as the Head of Medical and Sports Science.

Bain had previously worked with Goodwin at St Mirren.

The Dons boss revealed Bain also gave up his summer holiday to help Kennedy prepare for the new campaign.

He said: “Kevin Bain our new head of physio came in and has worked really hard on Matty.

“Since I arrived in February we have made so many changes, not just with the players we have let go, but also behind the scenes.

Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy in action against Brechin City.

“Kevin Bain came in as head of medical and sports science and Craig Samson arrived as head of goalkeeping.

“Kevin deserves a huge pat on the back as took little to no time off during the summer.

“He gave Matty so many one-to-one sessions during the summer.

“Matty really committed to them, hence why we are getting him on the pitch more and he is not missing any training sessions any more.”

Kennedy will remind Reds supporters what he can do

While manager of St Mirren, Goodwin attempted to secure Kennedy on loan last August.

However, the loan move never materialised due to Kennedy’s back problem.

Signed from St Johnstone in January 2020, Kennedy was a key player in his first full season.

He racked up 39 appearances in the 2020-21 campaign as the Reds secured European qualification.

However, last season he was restricted to just nine appearances, with six of those off the bench.

Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy (33) is fouled by Peterhead’s Jack Brown (6) in the box, a penalty, is awarded.

The entire first half of the campaign was wiped out for Kennedy.

Winger Kennedy did not play until featuring as a late substitute in a 1-0 loss to St Mirren, then managed by Goodwin, on January 25.

Goodwin said: “Matty knows last season was extremely disappointing.

“He wants to show the fans why he was brought here as an Aberdeen player.”

Aberdeen’s Matty Kennedy scores against Dumbarton.

Kennedy’s return to fitness has been a major boost for Goodwin’s bid for success this season.

The work of Bain, coupled with the dedication of the winger, has been key to his revival.

Goodwin also praised the club’s medical and sports team for ‘a flawless’ start to the season in terms of restricting injuries.

The Dons boss pushed the squad hard in pre-season and he demands an intensity and high tempo in games.

However, injury issues have been limited.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin and Matty Kennedy during the 1-1 draw with Dundee United last season.

Both players picked up problems in the 2-1 pre-season friendly defeat of Buckie Thistle.

Goodwin said: “I have to give huge credit to Kevin Bain, Graham Kirk (Head of Sports Science and Fitness) and the rest of the medical and sports science team.

“Pre-season was pretty much flawless to be honest.

“We have not picked up any muscle injuries, which is the most important part.

“I want to get to that Celtic game and have a full squad to choose from.”