ANDREW Driver is determined to win a long-term deal with Aberdeen and finally prove why he used to be rated as one of the brightest prospects in Scottish football.
The winger has initially been signed until the end of the season to boost Aberdeen’s championship challenge. However, manager Derek McInnes has made it clear Driver can earn an extended stay if he recaptures the form shown as a youngster at Hearts.
That was good enough to see him represent England under-21s in the 2009 Euro Championships and attract big money bids from several clubs down south.
The Tynecastle side rejected them all but two years ago, with the club in financial trouble, he moved to the MLS to join Houston Dynamo.
Now he’s back in Scotland with a point to prove after failing to earn a deal with DC United and insists he’s returning better than ever. Driver, 27, said: “I think the best years are ahead of me and I never had any thoughts other than to get playing.
“Things didn’t work out for me in Washington what with roster sizes and salary caps so I had to come back in the middle of our season.
“I’m happy to be back though and I feel that I have a lot of unfinished business in this league.
“When I left I had just come back from injury and maybe didn’t reach the level that I had wanted to.
“Obviously I won the Scottish Cup with Hearts which was a great experience but I was happy to go and try something new.
“The biggest positive for me is that I am returning to a team that are doing really well in the league right now.
“That will make it a lot harder for me to get in the team and play matches every week but as a professional that is the sort of challenge you want to be in.
“I would rather be coming to a place where you really have to earn your place in the side than one where you walk into a team not doing well. I’ve not got long to prove myself but I believe in myself and thankfully the manager here has given me a chance to show what I can do.”
Driver admits playing in Scotland for a team other than Hearts will feel unusual at first after spending a decade at Tynecastle. The winger is pleased to see his former club now enjoying the sort of stability behind the scenes that was painfully absent during the Vladimir Romanov era.
However, his priority is to thrive in exactly that sort of environment at Aberdeen even if he can’t help but wonder what his old team might have achieved without that turmoil.
Driver added: “It will be strange playing for another Scottish club after so many years at Hearts but football is football.
“I had ten years at Hearts and by the end you kind of got used to what was happening but sometimes when we weren’t getting paid it was a nightmare.
“There was a lot of strange situations, that is all past news but it didn’t help us.
“I have not been here too long, but from speaking to the manager and the players it seems to be a very well run club. Everyone is pulling in the right direction. It is working here and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to add to it.
“The crazy thing at Hearts is that when everyone did pull in the right direction, things went well. It’s good to see them doing as well as they are and it’s especially good to see them stable now. There’s a good buzz around the club and I still know a lot of people behind the scenes at Tynecastle as well as a few of the players.”
Driver will make his Dons debut against Motherwell tonight if his international clearance comes through in time. He is in line to replace Jonny Hayes who is sidelined with the calf injury picked up in the 4-0 defeat against Celtic last time out.
Motherwell will use the same squad that drew with Kilmarnock at the weekend. Striker Bob McHugh could yet be in contention for a return after shaking off the groin injury which has kept him out since the end of October.
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