PAUL Sheerin today admitted he will be delighted to hand responsibility for the Aberdeen first team back to Derek McInnes tonight following his surprise decision to turn down the chance to become the new Rangers manager.

McInnes has not taken training since the Ibrox club, where he spent five years as a player back in the 1990s, finally made an official approach for him on Tuesday evening and he had been widely expected to depart this week.

However, the 46-year-old, who had appeared all set to join English Championship club Sunderland during the summer before opting to remain, has stunned Scottish football by staying where he is.

Read more: Derek Johnstone: Rejection from Derek McInnes is a slap in the face to an under-pressure Rangers board

He will take charge of the Aberdeen side this evening as they bid to get back to winning ways following back-to-back defeats to Rangers in a Ladbrokes Premiership match against Dundee at Dens Park.

Sheerin, the Aberdeen Under-20 coach who had been overseeing training along with Barry Robson, welcomed the news and predicted it would give the players, whose form has suffered in recent weeks as a result of constant speculation about their manager, a huge lift.

“I was asked to take the team for a couple of days along with Barry and was happy to do so,” he said. “But I’m even happier to hand it back to Derek now that he’s staying.

“He was the one who asked me to do it on Tuesday night and we just got on with it. I didn’t know about his decision until this afternoon, it was after 4pm when I was leaving Pittodrie that I got a call saying he was staying.

“It’s fantastic news for the club. Everyone wanted him to stay and what we were all hoping happened.”

Read more: Stewart Fisher: Never mind what’s next for Rangers, what’s next for Derek McInnes?

Sheerin added: “It was obviously a tough situation for everyone, but the players were fantastic, they were focused on the Dundee game and worked as hard as normal.

“We just kept everything the same, nothing changed. It’s football, these things happen and the players were able to cope with it. They are a great bunch and their focus was always on the game this weekend.

“Derek will now come back in and pick his team for the game at Dens Park. It will give everyone a boost, the players and the supporters to know that he’s going to remain the manager.

“He’s done a fantastic job here over the years, he’s built the place up and clearly feels he has unfinished business.

“It’s great to have a resolution and the fact it’s the one we wanted makes it better. To be honest, most people probably thought he would go so it’s massive for Aberdeen that he’s staying.”

McInnes, who was given time off from his job to consider the approach from Rangers, has been criticised by a section of the Aberdeen support on social media websites as it had been widely anticipated he would join their hated rivals.

Read more: Rangers 'endorse' Derek McInnes' decision to remain as Aberdeen boss​

But Sheerin is confident the man who has led the Pittodrie club to three consecutive second placed finishes in the top flight will have no difficulty winning round those who had turned against him and is certain he will receive a warm welcome when he returns to the dugout this evening.

“You would hope any unhappiness won’t overshadow what he has done,” he said. “There will be a minority frustrated and the whole situation might bring up more frustration, but when they look back they will realise he has done a good job.

“He has been brilliant for the club from top to bottom in all honesty. He has done a great job. Obviously, he ce-mented second spot on a regular basis and that’s some-thing we want to continue to do. For the club it would have been a huge loss if the two of them (McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty) had gone.

“He gave his all to the club. He has done a brilliant job for the club. If he had gone then he would have left the club in a better place than it was when he came in. But obviously he is going to stay which is fantastic news for everyone at Aberdeen.”

Sheerin, the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Aberdeen and St. Johnstone midfielder, admitted the ongoing uncertainty about McInnes had been unsettling for the players at Pittodrie, who have won just seven out of a possible 21 points in their last seven matches, and may have contributed to their dip in form.

“They have been good in training,” he said. “They have worked hard and they seem eager to keep going with business as usual. But it has been difficult for them. It’s good to get some clarity into the situation.

“I've been in these situations as a player and you honestly think it doesn't affect you. But there must be some part that affects them to some degree. Not a huge degree. It's not the ideal situation, we all know that, and the sooner it all gets sorted the better for them that there's a real focus on whatever is happening.

“There was a wee malaise about the place. I think the whole club felt that because of the situation. Hopefully they will be good to go now it has been settled.

“We were as much in the dark as everybody else in all honesty. We are hoping for resolution yesterday. It dragged on a bit longer than we would have liked. But for us it was just a case of knuckling down and doing what we could. It is good that it has been settled.”