IT was Tommy Burns who once spoke about the importance of the three Fs: Football, Faith and Family. It came back to Stephen O’Donnell at the end of last month when the opportunity arose for him to leave Kilmarnock and sign for Oxford United.

The full-back (inset) had just been watching his brother – a priest – giving mass when he switched on his phone to missed calls from his manager and agent alerting him of the transfer news.

It was a tempting proposition for the 27 year-old. But with a young son in tow and a desire to remain part of Steve Clarke’s Scotland plans, O’Donnell reluctantly turned it down.

“Last month there was a big possibility of me going,” he said ahead of Kilmarnock’s home match with Hibernian this afternoon. “I had two or three days to think about Oxford. I was watching my brother say his first mass at my old high school and came out to missed calls from the gaffer and my agent. So it was an interesting few days.

“But I’ve just had a baby and I wasn’t sure it was the right move for my family. And then you add in Scotland. Playing in League One in England I’d be further away from it all. And I want to still be part of the gaffer’s squads. So Scotland was massive in my considerations.

“I want to give myself every possibility of being in that squad. Staying here was the right decision for that. I gave this one a lot of thought. But it just didn’t feel like the right call for me at this time.”

O’Donnell, though, admits he may well be off once his contract expires at the end of the season.

He added: “I’d love to win something. So if I could go somewhere where that would be a possibility, then that would be great. Come the summer I hope I’ve got decisions to make and one of them is to stay with Kilmarnock. Then I’ll make what I think is the right one.”

The Rugby Park side head into the match in a rich vein of form after beating Rangers in midweek. But that wasn’t the case last month.

He explained: “We were in danger of being dragged into a relegation fight. There were a few words said afterwards. I was getting slaughtered! But it was important to clear the air.”

Graeme Macpherson