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Stephen O'Donnell on life at Kilmarnock with Steve Clarke

The defender says he is enjoying his football again since returning to Scotland.

Older, wiser and better looking... that's how Stephen O'Donnell assesses himself after returning to Scotland.

The Kilmarnock defender, clearly the joker of the pack, also has a mature and sentimental side to his character.

He returned to his homeland in the summer when Lee McCulloch signed him at Rugby Park and the 25-year-old has not looked back.

O'Donnell, or SOD as he is known in the dressing room for obvious reasons, started his career at Aberdeen.

He was quickly snapped up by Celtic where he played alongside the likes of Callum McGregor, Jackson Irvine and James Keatings, winning the Scottish Youth Cup in 2010.

After failing to break into Neil Lennon's side, O'Donnell moved to Partick Thistle, where he began his senior career and quickly became a regular.

Two seasons at Luton Town changed him a lot, though, and despite being a first pick his enjoyment waned.

His return north of the border was one he relished and as he relaxed over the winter break, O'Donnell took time to speak to STV and reflect on the first half of the campaign with Kilmarnock.

On Kilmarnock's form

Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after putting his side ahead against Rangers.
Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after putting his side ahead against Rangers. SNS

"The disappointing thing with the break is that the confidence was going through the full squad," he said.

"No matter if there was injuries or substitutes, everyone was having a big impact.

"Training was good every day so hopefully we've not lost that come Ross County in the cup."

On himself

Stephen O'Donnell signed for Kilmarnock in summer 2017.
Stephen O'Donnell signed for Kilmarnock in summer 2017. SNS

"I'm pleased to be back home," he said. "I'm a bit older, wiser... better looking and I'm enjoying my football now.

"I hadn't for a wee while but I'm just starting to now so hopefully that will continue and I will get fitter and stronger."

On Steve Clarke

Kilmarnock swooped for Steve Clarke in October.
Kilmarnock swooped for Steve Clarke in October. SNS

"Steve Clarke getting announced was a real surprise but one we were all delighted with," he said.

"Full credit to the board for getting him in. We were tiptoeing around about him for the first couple of weeks but when the games started coming you start to settle down and know how he works.

"We've got a belief about us. We know how to play and we know it's hard to beat us."

On the rest of the season

Kilmarnock's Jamie MacDonald (L) and Stephen O'Donnell at full-time after beating Hearts in November.
Kilmarnock's Jamie MacDonald (L) and Stephen O'Donnell at full-time after beating Hearts in November. SNS

"I think we need to make sure first and foremost relegation doesn't happen," he said.

"That was what we were looking at first and that was the fear. If we continue the form through January and February obviously we'll be looking to make top six.

"Those two months are an important time because if we crumble again we'll be back down the bottom come March."

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