NEW Ayr United defender Chris Higgins admits he simply can't wait to have the backing of the very vocal Ayr United fans who have previously made it very tough for him at Somerset Park.

The former Queen of the South captain has become the Honest Men's first signing of the 2017-18 season and is seen as a hugely important player by manager Ian McCall after he confirmed the news the club were going full-time next season and pushing for an immediate return to the Championship.

United staved off opposition from a host of other clubs to sign him.

He looks to have have leadership qualities and is expected to work very well with the younger players, some of whom are expected to graduate from the Academy after the summer.

The 31-year-old stopper is a left-sided centre-back and his experience could prove invaluable.

Manager Ian McCall is delighted: ”I was desperate to get this deal done as Chris has been made significant offers by other clubs in our league and above. He has been captain for years and is a winner.

"Chris is here almost entirely as a player however he is a fully qualified PT instructor so he will working on programmes to help our younger players with fitness, nutrition, speed etc. He is exactly the type of boy we want at this club."

The player is excited at his move north to Somerset Park and said: ”I haven’t worked with him before however I know the manager's pedigree and he really sold this opportunity to me. The club going full time was key in the decision as was the fact we are aiming for promotion and really want the title.

"I know most of the boys in the squad, either personally or having played with them before so I know we have some really top players. I have played at Somerset Park many times and the one thing I always notice is the fans behind the goal, they can be intimidating when they are in full voice and I am really looking forward to playing in front of them.

"The main reason I am here is as a player however I am also going to be working with some of the younger players on fitness and nutrition. In this day and age that side of the game is absolutely crucial and its imperative players look after themselves.”

Higgins started his career with Motherwell and since then has played for Clyde, Dunfermline and has been with Queen of the South since July 2011.

Meanwhile new deals have been offered to Michael Rose, Daryll Meggatt, Ross Docherty, Jamie Adams, Robbie Crawford and Alan Forrest with the boss waiting to hear back from them.