Dons fans will see the best of Craig Bryson whenever football restarts, according to his former team mate Paul Coutts.
Prior to football being shutdown on March 13 Bryson had endured a frustrating first season with Aberdeen.
He was the Reds’ marquee signing for last summer, arriving at Pittodrie after leaving Derby County.
However, an ankle injury picked up while playing for the Rams disrupted at the end of last season has continued to cause problems.
An operation in January means the injury shouldn’t be bothering the 33-year-old any more.
Aberdonian Coutts played with Bryson at Derby from 2012-2015 and says if his old team mate is fit when football resumes after coronavirus he will make an impact.
The former Cove Rangers midfielder who played for English League One side Fleetwood Town said: “I know it’s been a really stop-start and frustrating time for Craig since he signed for Aberdeen because of injury.
“He had an injury at the tail-end of last season which I think meant he missed the play-offs with Derby and it’s bothered him.
“I’ve always said it’s so tough if you miss a pre-season to catch up.
“Craig’s probably the fittest player I’ve ever played with and when you see somebody with his incredible fitness levels struggling to catch up it shows you how important it is not to have a disrupted pre-season.
“I really feel for him because he hasn’t been able to show his best for the Dons yet.
“But I think this break can help Craig because it’s a bit a leveller and it means everyone will be starting from the same point so when football resumes I think Craig will then be able to show the Dons fans what he’s all about.”
Bryson was initially viewed as a replacement for Graeme Shinnie when he joined the Dons last year.
Although he’s only been restricted to 12 appearances for Aberdeen Coutts, 31, is in no doubt his old team-mate is capable of taking on that midfield mantle in the future.
He added: “If he’s fit Aberdeen have got a great player because he’s proven himself year after year at a high level.
“I said when he signed that it was a good signing for the Dons, especially with Graeme Shinnie leaving last summer.
“I thought Craig would be a good replacement. He just needs that fitness and then a run of games.
“Once football gets going again he’ll still be looking for that run of five to 10 games to really settle in.
“But once he gets that I’ve got no doubt he’ll prove to be a good signing for Aberdeen.”
We’ve released two episodes of our Northern Goal podcast this week, featuring interviews with former Aberdeen stars Neil Simpson and Kevin McNaughton. Here’s a taster:
Although Coutts describes Bryson as arguably the fittest player he says the problems he’s experienced this term underline the importance of pre-season.
Coutts knows from experience how difficult it can be to get fully back to fitness if pre-season has been disrupted or missed altogether because of injury.
When playing for Sheffield United he broke his leg in November 2017 and didn’t make his comeback until 11 months later.
Although the following season the Blades won promotion to the Premier League, having not had a full pre-season Coutts says it’s hard to reach the same fitness levels as teams mates when playing catch-up.
The former Peterborough and Preston player said: “If you miss pre-season or have part of pre-season interrupted I just think you don’t ever quite catch up throughout the season.
“Everyone always seems to have that base fitness ahead of you. Everyone else has done their work in a competitive environment which pushes you on.
“Then if you’re trying to catch up and do it on your own it’s so hard to do it, in my experience.
“Pre-season is the worst time of the year, but it’s so important for every player.
“Craig’s a super-fit player but it’s so hard when you don’t get that base fitness over a four or six-week period before the season starts.”