Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has defended his club's signing of Greg Stewart.

His Kilmarnock counterpart Steve Clarke had set the cat among the pigeons with his observation the deal that took Stewart to Pittrodie had a “slightly strange smell, right from the start”.

But it was the turn of McInnes, who lured the player back to Pittodrie, to have his say as he insisted: “Some you win, some you lose.”

Stewart, a huge success for Kilmarnock during his six-month loan spell from Birmingham City, finds himself at the centre of a dispute after his parent club decided to recall him, only for the former Dundee midfielder to be whisked to the Granite City before he’d had time to unpack his case.

That he’d failed to set the heather on fire for the Dons while on loan at Aberdeen last season was offset by his Killie performances and his eight goals for the club.

But, as McInnes prepared his squad for the visit to Hamilton on Premiership duty tonight, the Reds manager had his say on the controversy.

"We asked the question about signing Greg on a permanent deal,” he said, “and I think Birmingham were open to that but it soon became clear that wasn't an option.

"It was going to be a loan deal if at all, so we were asked to submit our best offer which we did and then heard Kilmarnock had matched the offer.

"Birmingham told us at that stage it was up to the player, so Greg had a lot to consider and he came back to us which was really pleasing. We are just glad to get the player as we put a lot of work into it but I have been on the other side when this sort of thing happens.

"Nobody has suffered more than me when it comes to losing players after the work we put in doesn't come to fruition.

"Some you win and some you lose, but underlying everything the boy wanted to come and it was Greg's decision where he went.

"He could have stayed at Birmingham, he could have gone back to Kilmarnock or to us and we are delighted he came to us.

"Obviously we want this to go well and the fact he came back meant his time here wasn't as bleak a picture as was painted.

"It didn't work as well as it should have but that he wanted to come back with a point to prove and be a success here, encourages me that we have a chance to make it a permanent deal.”

The Dons, stung by Livingston in the 1-1 draw in their Scottish Cup-tie at the weekend, will be without Connor McLennan and Mikey Devlin tonight but pleased Gary Mackay-Steven came through Saturday’s tie after his lengthy absence following his head clash with Dedryk Boyata of Celtic at the beginning of last month.

Mackay-Steven is still mulling over a possible move to MLS side, New York City, but was coy about discussing the issue, insisting it was still under consideration.

“I said to the gaffer that it’s not been in my thinking, either staying or moving,” he said. “I’ve just been focusing on getting back and playing.

“I need a bit more time. I’ve not had a chance to sit down and speak with my family about anything. That’s where we’re at and there’s been no change.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton manager Martin Canning has launched a passionate defence of his record after criticism from fans prompted family members to leave Saturday's game against St Johnstone.

Canning's father exchanged words with a Hamilton fan during the 2-0 William Hill Scottish Cup defeat after the Accies manager's nephew became upset with the abuse directed towards the dugout.

The 37-year-old has been in the role for four years, during which time Accies have enjoyed their longest run in the Premiership – they had previously only had eight years of top-flight football in total since the Second World War.

"It's not often that I defend myself. I usually just accept it and move on, keep my head down and work hard," Canning said ahead of tonight's visit of Aberdeen.

"But my job is to keep Hamilton in the Premiership. Every year we are tipped to go down, every year we fight extremely hard to stay up, and we have kept the club up four times. That's our record, we have never done that before in our history. That's success.

"My job is to bring young players into the first team and move them on. Since I've been the manager, Stephen Hendrie has moved, Michael Devlin has moved, Lewis Ferguson has moved, Greg Docherty has moved. The club have earned good money from these moves.

"That's exactly what we are asked to do and we are doing that. But fans want to win, I want to win, we all want to win, and it becomes difficult.

"If someone had said you'd be on 14 points at this stage of the season but there would be two teams below you, I would have taken that.

"It shows how competitive the league is at the top end that the teams at the bottom are finding it more difficult to get points.

"This year has been a struggle, we have had a lot of players to turn round. In the last 12 months we have lost Michael, Fergie, Greg, Ali (Crawford), Temps (David Templeton) and Ioannis (Skondras). Probably the only team who can say they have lost players of equal importance is Hibs and they have found it difficult on the back of that.

"We lose players who become three or four or five-grand-a-week players and we can't go out and replace them with the same money. We have to start again with our own kids, let them make mistakes and get them in the first team, and that's the process we are in at the minute."

Canning clarified that his father did not leave McDiarmid Park because of abuse he personally received.

"The reason he was leaving the game was because my nephew was at the game and he was obviously upset because I was getting abuse, which is part of modern-day football," Canning added.

"It was just circumstances as well. My dad wouldn't usually sit in that area. My uncle is disabled so he sits in the disabled section and that happened to be right next to the fans that were being vocally critical.

"They are entitled to their opinion but my dad wanted to make it clear that he never left the game or wasn't forced to leave the game because of any personal abuse towards him or my family. That wasn't the case at all and I wouldn't want the fans getting that labelled at them either.

"When he got up to leave just before half-time, someone said something at that point and he has said something back. There was no contact, he was nowhere near anybody."