Craig Bryson backs Kenny Shiels as Kilmarnock manager

Kilmarnock caretaker manager Kenny Shiels

Craig Bryson has predicted that Kenny Shiels will be a great choice as Kilmarnock manager despite himself leaving Rugby Park for Derby County.

Shiels' caretaker role is expected to be made permanent next week, with Jimmy Nicholl arriving as his assistant.

But midfielder Bryson is the latest big-name player to leave this summer.

"I am a wee bit sad that I don't get to work under Kenny Shiels for a bit longer because he is a great guy and a great manager," said the Scotland cap.

Lauded playmaker Alexei Eremenko has returned to Metalist Kharkiv at the end of his season-long loan, while skilful midfield colleague Mehdi Taouil rejected a new contract.

Influential central defender Frazer Wright has joined Scottish Premier League rivals St Johnstone, while long-serving full-back Jamie Hamill moved to Hearts, both on freedom of contract.

Scotland squad goalkeeper Cammy Bell looks destined for a new club at the end of his contract.

Meanwhile, forwards Conor Sammon and Danny Invincibile moved on to Wigan Athletic and St Johnstone respectively before Shiels stepped up from his assistant's role after Mixu Paatelainen took over as Finland coach in April.

Now Shiels will have to call on the experience he gained as manager at Coleraine, Ballymena United, Larne and Carrick Rangers - and as head of youth at Tranmere Rovers - to find replacements.

The man who joined Kilmarnock last summer has already returned to his Northern Irish roots for his assistant, with former Raith Rovers and Millwall manager Nicholl having resigned as Cowdenbeath boss in anticipation after the Blue Brazil's relegation to Division Two.

Craig Bryson
Scotland midfielder Bryson has been sold by Kilmarnock to Derby

"I wish him all the best in the rebuild job that he's got to do now," said Bryson of the caretaker boss.

"He is a great manager and I just hope the Kilmarnock fans give him a wee bit of time to rebuild the squad.

"Because I don't think any club can really deal with the number of players that he's lost."

Meanwhile, Bryson hopes that his transfer to a Championship club will help him add to the Scotland cap he gained in November in a friendly against the Faroe Islands.

"Craig Levein seems to look down in England for most of his players these days," he said of the national coach.

"So hopefully, if I can go down to Derby and make myself a first-team regular there, I will get more opportunities for Scotland.

"I always had ambition to play down in England.

"I was hoping that something would come about and I am delighted that I've got the chance to go down there now."

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