SUMMER signing Ross Cunningham has credited his former manager for giving him time to recover fully from injury before making a summer switch to Kelty Hearts.

The 25-year-old, who has scored four goals in eight appearances so far, moved to New Central Park from Clyde after being enthused by player/boss Michael Tidser's vision for the club.

Former Hamilton Academical youth player Cunningham joined the Bully Wee in September 2020, after a previous loan spell, and went on to score 17 times for them in 90 competitive games.

Four of his 10 goals last season came against his new employers, but his time with Clyde ended in disappointment as they suffered relegation from League One, after they lost to Annan Athletic, who Kelty play this weekend, in the play-off final.

Cunningham missed the final five games of the regular season, plus both legs of the semi-final - against East Fife - and Annan, and revealed that his then gaffer, Jim Duffy, was keen not to rush him back, despite the team's struggles, so he could fully regain fitness for the current campaign.

During pre-season, he told Press Sport: "Last season was tough. I'd spent a lot of time at Clyde and it's a club that means a lot to me. To see them go down was hard, but I knew when the gaffer (Tidser) contacted me that it was a challenge that excited me, and I really wanted to get going here.

"I feel like I'd played my part there. It had been harder with injuries, and it probably wasn't the way I wanted to leave it, in terms of not playing for the last part of the season, but, when the opportunity came to come to Kelty, it was one I couldn't turn down.

"I was out for 10-12 weeks with a knee injury. I tried to come back and it just wasn't right. I was speaking with the manager at Clyde at the time (Duffy) and he said 'it's not going to get any better, there's no real point in you ruining your next pre-season, wherever it may be', so I took my time and I've managed to get my knee strong again.

"He was obviously wanting me back as quickly as I could be, but it just wasn't plauisble. My knee wasn't settling down. I would try running and I would still get the same pain.

"Fair play to Jim. He was great with me the way he made sure that I was right. He always said to me if you're back, you're back, if not, it's something we'll need to deal with as a club and a team, so it's fine.

"When the season ended, I didn't want to be coming back into this pre-season with wee niggles and just not being right, so I took my time, did all my rehab, all the things the physios had given me, made sure that I was fit and my knee was strong."

So far, Cunningham's fitness hasn't been in question as he has played in each of Kelty's competitive matches so far, netting a brace in their last home game, a 2-1 win over Alloa Athletic.

Alongside the likes of Craig Johnston, Tiwi Daramola, Stefan McCluskey and Botti Biabi, Cunningham provides plenty of options in attack for Tidser, of whom he said: "The way the gaffer spoke to me about the way he sees, not just myself, but the team playing, and the way the club is, he said it's a great club to be at.

"Every time he picked up the phone and spoke to me, I came off the phone call with a good feeling, thinking, aye, I want to play for you."

When asked whether he had experienced working under a player/manager before, Cunningham, following the win over Alloa, added: "Briefly at Hamilton, where I was an under-20. The manager used to drop down and play sometimes.

"It's a hard one but I think the gaffer does a great job of bouncing between the two perfectly well. It's not too different to playing with anybody else.

"When I first came here, it was like 'what do you call him on the pitch?' I think I've just settled on gaffer - it makes it easier!"