FORMER Morton midfielder Conor Pepper has revealed he had to decline an offer from Jim Duffy to help him return to full fitness at Cappielow — because it isn’t financially viable for him to be in Greenock.

The Irishman left Morton this month after his contract ran out following an injury-plagued year at Cappielow.

His former manager offered him the chance to use the club’s facilities to allow him to continue his recovery from a serious knee injury in Greenock. 

But Pepper has had to decline Duffy’s offer for now and says he’ll rehabilitate back home in Ireland for the time being as he can’t afford to stay in Scotland because he isn’t being paid.

He told the Tele: “Something I would never accept off anyone is that I didn’t work hard enough. I take pride in what I do and while I’m injured I’m always in the gym two or three times a day trying to keep my legs fit. 

“But I was fighting a losing battle and I didn’t know about it.

"I’d go to the gym, do my rehab to the letter and then break down. I’d start again, work work work and for someone being injured for that long, my body is probably in the best shape of my life because I’ve spent so much time in the gym. The most disappointing thing is that it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t in my control and that’s a tough thing to take.

“When I’m fit I might be able to do some rehab work with Morton but at the moment it’s tough to be in Scotland and not be getting paid while living in a flat.

“So I think the majority of my rehab will just be by myself locally with my family and when I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere I can come back over to Scotland.

“The gaffer has said I can come in as soon as pre-season starts but I just can’t do it at the moment.”

The 23-year-old suffered a serious knee injury against Hibernian at Easter Road last February and underwent surgery and rehabilitation, but broke down as he attempted a comeback in a development game back in December.

Pepper is hoping the latest operation he had down south last month can have him on the road back to playing football rather than being stuck watching from the sidelines.

While the Irishman accepts that it would be impossible for him to stay at Morton after his contract ran out, he says there’s no hard feelings about his departure and praised his former manager Duffy for helping.

He said: “I got the report and I got MPFL [medial patellofemoral ligament] reconstruction. Other players have had it, for example Robert Snodgrass. 

“And some players have come back from it as well. I think what is more disappointing is that people in Scotland couldn’t see that the problem I was having was word for word what I’ve been saying it was for a year.

“So I’ve had to go down south to a top guy and he could see it was what I’d been saying just by reading my report. 

“That was another thing that was a little bit annoying because he fixed what was wrong and now it’s going to take even more work and rehab.

“But I know for a fact that I’ve got the right thing done finally and it’s just now whether I’m lucky enough that it’ll hold up.

“I’ve not had the best of luck or the best of times in the last few years, I’ve probably spent the same amount of time injured as I have playing. 

“A year and a half playing and then the same period of time out.

“That’s really tough and that’s why I can’t speak highly enough about the manager because of the way I was dealt with at the club. 

“Away from the football pitch as well, all that sort of stuff when I was really upset, I was really lucky to have a manager like that at the time.

“But I’m not fit and I can’t expect anyone to pay money for me or pay me week-in-week-out when I can’t prove that I’m fit. 

“But I want to get fit again and see where that takes me.”