Lewis McDonald has handed supporters of Blantyre Vics a massive pre-season boost by extending his playing contract - just weeks after it was announced he was moving to Petershill.

It was reported last month that the highly regarded attacker had agreed to join the Peasy, along with teammate Gavin Miller. The pair added to reports of a third Vics forward, Nadeem Zeb, signing on the dotted line for Arthurlie.

It sparked fears that there may be a lack of firepower within the Lanarkshire club’s ranks, but the stunning change of heart by McDonald has provided a welcome bonus to the Castle Park faithful.

Team boss John Gibson revealed he is confident the 24-year-old can wreak havoc alongside John Cunningham and Ben McKenzie.

McDonald - determined to push on from last season when a string of injuries curtailed his Vics appearances - was snapped up from the juvenile ranks by East Kilbride F.C manager Billy Ogilvie and he developed as a player under Bilko (Lewis was a substitute in the 2016 Scottish Cup clash against Celtic) and latterly Martin Lauchlan prior to becoming disenchanted with football and taking  a break of fully seven months .

Vics boss Gibby remained in constant contact throughout Lewis’s spell away from the game but the breakthrough came from the Irvine Meadow managerial pairing of Brian McGinty and Stevie Aitchison who persuaded him to turn out as a trialist in a game against Hurlford United where his impressive showing brought a signing offer.

Unfortunately, Lewis was not a driver back then and he baulked at the prospect of relying upon others to get him to training and games. However he was more amenable to yet another Gibby telephone call asking him down to Blantyre and he duly put pen to paper in 2018 and has established himself as a regular ever since.

He admitted: "Originally I played on the wing but Gibby has used me more and more as a through the middle striker which suits me no end. I have a good relationship with him but the departures of close friends Gav and Zeb had brought me around to thinking the time was right to go and make a fresh start elsewhere and I will not deny entering into talks with Locky about a move to Petershill.

“But far too much has been made of him being a former manager because truth is he was only my E.K. gaffer for a period of two months so when push came to shove I thought it best for my career if I continued to play in the top WoSFL division rather than drop down into the Conference Leagues.

“Locky wasn’t best pleased about me changing my mind and made his feelings known but at the same time he fully understands my reasons for staying at the Vics so I do believe we are still on talking terms.”

McDonald sampled the WoSFL top flight during the cut-short 2020/21 season and that experience has him relishing the prospect of competing in the 20 team Premier Division.

He said: "We won a creditable three of a total of seven league matches  played  and seen enough of the opposing teams to know you have to be at it in every game to stand any chance of picking up points.

“Gibby has said it’s going to be get a whole lot tougher now the supposed 'Crown Jewels' of Auchinleck Talbot and Pollok are back playing but everyone at the Vics is looking forward to these games and showing we are a club heading in the right direction.

“He has a number of signing targets in mind which if they come on board can  add competition for the jerseys but more importantly will  help us to cope at this top level."

Vics boss Gibson showed his delight over McDonald ‘s re-signing, saying: "The guys all know how important Lewis is for us as a group and it’s fantastic to have him committed for the new season.

“He has qualities in the final third of the pitch and hopefully we can make them pay in terms of results."

Seasoned team boss Gibby was reluctant to reveal his transfer hand but did confir the captures of midfielders Grant Brennan, formerly of Rob Roy and Stirling Albion as well as P.J. O’Donnell from Lanark United.

The newcomers will meet up with McDonald and the rest at the end of this month when Blantyre’s playing squad get pre-season training underway ahead of their first scheduled friendly match against Cumbernauld Colts on Saturday, June 12.

Meanwhile, the WoSFL Board have announced their acceptance in midweek of nine clubs, with another two currently under consideration, into a new Development League for the start of next season.