MORTON’s kid gloves Jamie McGowan says he is thriving following his move to training with the Ton first team.

McGowan feels the step-up from under-20s action has benefited him greatly because he’s now spending his time working with experienced players and improving his own game.

The stopper has been working with the main squad since the departure of Andy McNeil to China at the turn of the year and believes his game has come on leaps and bounds.

He told the Tele: “The step-up has been really good.

“It’s been great to be involved every day with the gaffer and the first team - getting to show what I can do every day in training, and playing games with good players in the first team.

“Playing against [Michael] Tidser and Forbesy [Ross Forbes], the experienced players, in training is helping me.

“I feel as though I’ve come on a good bit since Andy left.

“It’s been the best spell I’ve had in training and I’ve done quite well in the 20s’ games as well.”

Boss Jim Duffy has so far resisted moving for a new back-up keeper to replace the departed McNeil, and young goalkeeper McGowan is determined to repay that show of faith.

He said: “Hopefully I’ve done well enough to stay there, but I know I need to keep doing well because the gaffer could bring someone in at any point.

“It helps you learn and you’re playing with top players day-in, day-out, so when it comes to games you can use the experience you’ve picked up.

“From reading strikers’ body shapes to reading movement, you can use it to try and work out the players you are up against.”

McGowan has been in and around the first-team in the past, but believes his previous times on the bench were perhaps a reflection of the squad’s depth at the time.

The 20-year-old finally feels like he’s earned the right to be there following McNeil’s move to Guangzhou R&F.

He said: “It makes me feel that I deserve to be here, whereas maybe before, the times I’d been in the first team were because Gats [Derek Gaston] was injured.

“It was kind of like I was there until they came back fit.

“But now I feel like I’m there on merit, that the gaffer has trusted me to keep me in there.

“It does fill me with a lot of confidence but I know if I’m not performing well he can always go and get a free agent or a loan or whoever that might be.”

McGowan says current Ton number one Gaston has been influential in his development, along with ‘keeper coach David Wylie.

He continued: “Gats has always been very good with me, even since I came in from St Mirren as a young boy at 17.

“David Wylie has been great as well. All the goalies I’ve worked with have been great, we all get on quite well.

“I was quite disappointed when Andy left, even if it meant there would be a spot opening up. I enjoyed working with him, he was good for giving you tips and was helpful.

“If he ever took training when David Wylie wasn’t in, his drills were always really good.

“But I need to look at it from a personal point of view, it gave me the opportunity to come in and be on the bench and hopefully try to win a contract for the first team for next season.”