Former Birmingham and Kilmarnock boss Clark claims a fit Stephen Gleeson will be big influence for Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Stephen Gleeson goes down with an injury.
Aberdeen's Stephen Gleeson goes down with an injury.

Stephen Gleeson has been tipped to shine for Aberdeen by one of his former managers.

Lee Clark signed the Irishman for Birmingham City in the summer of 2014.

The Dons are currently awaiting the results of a scan on Gleeson’s knee after he went off injured in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with St Johnstone, Chris Millar’s testimonial at McDiarmid Park.

It is hoped the 29-year-old won’t be out for long with the Europa League second qualifying round tie with Burnley a fortnight away and the Premiership opener against Rangers at Pittodrie also on the horizon.

Former Kilmarnock boss Clark brought the Republic of Ireland international to St Andrew’s from MK Dons four years ago.

After three-and-a-half seasons with Birmingham, Gleeson moved to Ipswich town in January this year and on to the Granite City this summer.

Clark was sacked by Birmingham just a few months after signing Gleeson, but he has a very high opinion of the midfielder and believes he will be a fine signing for Aberdeen.

The 45-year-old said: “Stephen is a very influential player in terms of his leadership qualities and how he goes about playing the game.

“He likes to dominate the midfield area, he’s a very good distributor of the ball, he’s very tenacious.

“He’s got a tremendous will to win and I think he will do a very good job for Aberdeen and will be a real success story.

“He was always a player I admired when he was at MK Dons with the way they played and wanting to get the ball out from the back.

“I think he’ll suit the way Derek McInnes and Aberdeen play, they like to get the ball down and pass it about.

“Usually Aberdeen look to dominate games, especially at Pittodrie – they dominate the opposition. So Derek will be looking for Stephen to be a big influence on their passing game.

“He is a leader, he makes high demands in training and on the pitch.

“In the dressing room he is vocal and pushes his team-mates on. So for me it’s a real good signing for Aberdeen.”

Clark, who left Killie after a year in charge in February 2017 to join then League One club Bury, believes having characters like Gleeson are important in any squad which wishes to be successful.

He saw the effect Gleeson had in the Birmingham dressing room first hand in trying to improve his team-mates by demanding more from them.

Clark thinks big characters in the dressing room like Gleeson are increasingly rare in the modern game.

He added: “The days of the manager coming in and being a ranter and raver and trying to push the players are done.

“The players don’t seem to respond to that the same because society is changing and football is changing.

“But if it comes from your peers and your team-mates I think it makes much more of an impact.

“They are a dying breed those type of players. Stephen is one of the few that is left.

“He makes high demands and he’s not afraid to tell his team-mates about things. But he’s not one of those who tells his team-mates but doesn’t do it himself.

“He tells his team-mates but he puts high demands on himself too.

“He’s always pushing for perfection and trying to improve himself and the team.

“I think he’ll enjoy playing for a big club up in Scotland and I think he will be a big success.”

Clark, who is currently out of football after being sacked by Bury last October, has no doubts that Gleeson will settle in at Aberdeen and adapt to Scottish football very quickly.

He said: “He got settled in really well at Birmingham and I have no doubts he will be settled in very quickly at Aberdeen.

“He’ll get to know his team-mates and there is no extra baggage with Stephen.

“He gets on with his work and has high demands of himself and his team-mates.”

The severity of Gleeson’s injury is not yet known.

Clark believes if he is available to face Burnley he could be crucial to the Dons’ hopes.

Clark reckons Gleeson’s experience of English football could be vital when the Reds face Sean Dyche’s Clarets on July 26 at Pittodrie and August 2 at Turf Moor.

“If he’s available I think that goes without saying that he will be important,” he said.

“He will know what Burnley are about having faced them in the Championship.

“They haven’t changed too much in the last four or five years.

“They are really settled in their formation which is usually 4-4-2. They’ve got a tremendous work ethic and terrific players and the thing that stands out about Burnley is their togetherness.

“They also have lots of quality and are improving year on year.

“But the one thing you have to match them for is work ethic over the two games.

“They keep things simple and the players are well-drilled by Sean Dyche.

“Aberdeen could definitely have got an easier tie. But people like Stephen, who has come up against them before, will be an important player for Aberdeen if available.”

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