MORTON legend Andy Ritchie reckons his former club suffered without Jai Quitongo last season because they couldn’t replace the 19-year-old’s talent after his injury.

Quitongo missed months of last season following a knee problem suffered against Dunfermline at East End Park back in December. 

And Ritchie believes Ton never fully recovered after losing their star striker.

He told the Tele: “Jim was able to get through 70-80 per cent of his season last year using the same guys all the time. 

“Once that stopped, the injury to Jai Quitongo was a bit of a body blow and left them short. The forward areas are hard places to fill. You can mix and match a wee bit easier in the defensive areas than you can up top.

“They brought in the boy [Lawrence] Shankland who I thought did okay, but he wasn’t able to replicate what Quitongo had. 

“Jai had built up a good partnership with Gary Oliver, so when he got injured it was a shame.”

Ritchie added: “Jim’s budget out of the top six or seven teams in the league last year would probably have been the smallest budget.

"He’s basically always had a threadbare squad. But this season, it might give the opportunity along with the new signings he’s brought in to use some of the younger kids.

“Hopefully this season after last these kids will have learned a wee bit and maybe will push their way through.”

The ‘King of Cappielow’ made it to Greenock on a number of occasions last season and he insists his club can be proud of the way they went about their business.

But he reckons deep down Duffy and his players will be a bit disappointed with how the season ended.

He said: “I’d seen Morton a bit more last season, a bit more than the last three or four seasons because of circumstances and I did some work for the BBC.

“I like to get down as well if I’ve got a free Saturday or whatever to stand behind the goal and see what’s happening.

“And up until the last few weeks of the season it had been a very, very good one all round. The team had a couple of set-backs throughout the season with the semi-final of the Betfred Cup and the cup game against Rangers where they should’ve taken the game back to Cappielow.

“But the squad basically just ran out of legs, the squad wasn’t quite deep enough or strong enough in the bitter end.

“You win the race in the final furlong, not at the start.

“That’s got to go down as a wee bit of a disappointment, I think Jim Duffy will be a wee bit disappointed as well.

“There was so many positives to take, but how it all fizzled out will be a bit disappointing.”