With Robbie Savage retiring to forge a career in the media, a gaping hole needed filling in the Derby County midfield. Nigel Clough, the Rams manager, has wasted little time in plugging that gap by recruiting Craig Bryson from Scottish Premier League side Kilmarnock.
The 24-year-old, who skippered Killie last season, has joined on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee and is unlikely to be the last player to join Derby this summer as they look to move onwards and upwards after last season’s disappointing 19th place finish in the Npower Championship.
As well as Bryson, Nigel Clough has been linked with another player from the SPL, Aberdeen striker Chris Maguire, as well as looking closer to home with Nottingham Forest front man Nathan Tyson also expected to join the ranks at Pride Park.
That move would be a controversial one, with Tyson involved in ugly scenes with the aforementioned Savage following the clash between the two sides at the City Ground last season. On that occasion Tyson inflamed the Derby fans and their abrasive former skipper by waving a corner flag in front of the away supporters at the end of the game.
While that move has yet to be sealed, Derby were determined to get their man in Bryson, with Kilmarnock reportedly turning down earlier bids in an effort to get top dollar for their captain.
Bryson though was delighted with Derby’s persistence and revealed he was worried that the deal would collapse:
Derby will be hoping that Maguire can be a catalyst in their bid to improve their fortunes, with life in the Championship still proving a struggle, three years after their disastrous season in the Premier League.
Both Derby and Bryson have the same ambition, to play in the top flight and the new capture believes that both player and club are prepared to make the step up: “It is a massive club. I’ve been down and seen the stadium and training ground and everything there is set up for the Premiership” he told BBC Scotland, adding: “I hope I can help the team get up much higher in the league than finishing 19th. Everybody wants to play in the Premier league, but I am just delighted I have the chance to play in the Championship with Derby.”
Other transfer news sees Marlon King poised to make the move from Coventry City to Birmingham City, as Alex McLeish looks to remodel his squad following relegation from the Premier League.
Alan Smith has also been linked to make a controversial return to Leeds United following his release by Newcastle United. The 30-year-old committed the cardinal sin to Leeds supporters by joining Manchester United following the Yorkshire side’s relegation in 2004, but Leeds chairman Ken Bates has refused to rule out a deal telling Yorkshire Radio: “It depends if Simon (Grayson) wants him which is his decision.”