KELTY HEARTS manager Michael Tidser has strengthened his backroom staff by bringing in a familiar face to be his number two for the upcoming season.

Kevin McDonald will return to New Central Park as their assistant manager, just over a year after departing the club.

The 37-year-old initially arrived at Kelty in the summer of 2021 as assistant boss to brother-in-law, Kevin Thomson, following his appointment as manager.

Thomson was recruited from Rangers, where he had been working within the academy, to succeed Barry Ferguson, who resigned after guiding the team into SPFL League Two after victory over Brechin City in the pyramid play-off final.

In their sole season at the club, Thomson and McDonald led the 'Maroon Machine' to the League Two title, finishing 21 points clear of runners-up, Forfar Athletic.

However, following that success, Thomson, who had been interviewed by Kilmarnock prior to them appointing Derek McInnes as successor to Tommy Wright, resigned from his post, with McDonald leaving alongside him.

John Potter subsequently took over and consolidated the team's League One status, with Kelty finishing eighth in the table.

Following his departure to Raith Rovers, where he has taken up the role of technical director, Tidser, the team's captain, was announced as his successor.

The 33-year-old is set to combine playing and managing next year, and has moved to bring 'Geordie' back to the club as his right-hand man.

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, McDonald's senior playing career began at Hibernian, before he went on to play for Airdrie United, Alloa Athletic, Berwick Rangers, Bonnyrigg Rose and Musselburgh Athletic, the latter of whom he also managed.

As well as working together at Kelty, McDonald is a coach at Thomson's football academy, and has recently been coaching within Hibernian's academy.

He will now work with Tidser for next season, and will join David McGurn, who remains as goalkeeping coach, on the backroom staff, alongside returning kitman, Calum Wood.

Once pre-season is complete, Kelty will enter into the Viaplay Cup group stage in Group D.

Tidser face two of his former clubs in the form of Ross County and Greenock Morton, as well as FC Edinburgh and Stranraer.

Kelty begin at home to Morton on Saturday, July 15 at 3pm, before the short trip across the Forth to play FC Edinburgh on Wednesday, July 19.

They welcome Stranraer to New Central Park on Tuesday, July 25 at 7.45pm.

They complete the group fixtures away to Ross County in Dingwall at 3pm on Saturday, July 29.

The eight group winners and three best runners-up will join European entrants Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian in the last 16 of the competition on the weekend of August 19/20.