Scotland international central midfielder Craig Bryson joined Derby County in the summer of 2011 – and has been a first-team regular throughout his time at the club.
After the Rams agreed an undisclosed fee with Scottish Premier League outfit Kilmarnock for his services, he arrived in Derby as something of an unknown quantity, but come the end of the 2011/12 season that certainly was not the case, after he won all three of the club’s Player of the Year Awards.
The diminutive box-to-box central midfielder provides bags of energy and calmness to Derby’s midfield and in the summer of 2014 he signed a new-five year deal until 2019, highlighting his commitment to the cause.
His trademark bursts into the box yielded six-goal returns in 2011/12 and five in 2012/13, including the winning goal against fierce rivals Nottingham Forest in September 2012 in a 1-0 win at the City Ground – but he cranked that form up a notch in 2013/14 to be played Player of the Season.
He scored 16 goals in total, as well as recording a large number of assists. He scored two hat-tricks – in the 5-1 win at Millwall in September 2013 and in the 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest on home turf in March 2014 –and was also named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season.
In 2014/15 he remained a key member of the squad and appeared on 44 occasions, scoring five times.
A year later, Bryson endured a frustrating beginning to the 2015/16 season as the midfielder suffered a knee injury in the Rams’ opening fixture of the new campaign at Bolton Wanderers.
A long road back to recovery saw the popular Scot return in October, before playing a key part for the squad in the second half of the season as they cemented a play-off berth.
His performances for Derby saw him recalled to the Scotland international squad for their end of season friendly matches against Italy and France and played a part in the former.
Bryson began his career with Clyde and he made over 100 appearances at the Broadwood Stadium between 2003 and 2007. In January 2006 he scored the opener in Clyde's famous 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Celtic, the game in which former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane made his debut for the Glasgow giants.
After a brief trial at Derby under Billy Davies, which proved to be unsuccessful, Craig joined Kilmarnock in 2007 and he went on to make 135 appearances and score 14 goals at Rugby Park. He was given added responsibility after being handed the captaincy at Killie and his fine form was rewarded with his first international cap in 2010 against the Faroe Islands.