Jim McInally is thrilled Nicky Riley will complete his injury comeback with Peterhead after agreeing a contract for next season.
The midfielder has been on the sidelines since January 30 last year due to a cruciate ligament injury.
After paying for his operation 13 months ago, the Blue Toon kept Riley on this season for his rehabilitation and he has been given a deal until the end of the summer transfer window to prove his fitness in pre-season.
If things go to plan during pre-season it’s likely the 33-year-old will be given a contract for the rest of next season.
Blue Toon gaffer McInally is proud of the way the Buchan outfit have treated Riley and he hopes the former Dundee player can be a key contributor on his return, as he was for the Buchan outfit in the three campaigns before his injury.
McInally said: “That’s what makes me proud of the club and proud to be associated with Peterhead.
“The care they give people is first class and they take responsibility.
“They took responsibility as soon as Nicky got injured and I know Nicky is delighted he’s been given this opportunity.
“When we try to sign players it also helps because word of this sort of thing gets about in the game.
“I think Nicky will be OK and I think he can come back and be effective in our team.
“I think we’re going to get the benefit of Nicky coming back into our team.
“He’s an intelligent player and a player who has done well for us over a long period of time before the injury.
“He was a popular player for us and if he’s back to what he was before, we’ll benefit as a team.”
At the end of this season Riley was close to a return to action.
He has worked hard with Peterhead fitness coach Stuart Hogg and physio Greig Smith.
He was named on the bench for the final three games of the season and McInally was close to putting him on, but with the League Two title race going to the final day of the season, it wasn’t a risk the Blue Toon boss was prepared to take.
He added: “It’s good news Nicky is staying. I would have been comfortable giving him some game time before the end of the season. But with the way it worked out we didn’t want to risk it.
“If we had won League Two against Stirling Albion then I would have got Nicky on against Queen’s Park because he was strong enough.
“The good thing for him now is that he’s starting pre-season at the same time as everyone else, so he’s not playing catch-up to the same extent.”
Although he has been on the sidelines for a long period, Riley has still been made to feel very much part of the Peterhead squad.
He has attended training sessions and games and has remained a popular character within the squad.
McInally said: “At Elgin (third last game of the season on April 20) he was on the bench for the first time and when that was announced the boys all gave him a round of applause.
“He’s a popular player and he’s quite a character within our squad.”