MORTON defender Thomas O’Ware will be out of action for at least a month after a scan revealed he had suffered a stress fracture in his ankle. 

O’Ware has been struggling since returning to pre-season training, causing concerns that he was experiencing a negative reaction to a tidy-up operation he underwent back in May.

Morton boss Jim Duffy says 24-year-old O’Ware faces at least four weeks wearing a protective boot after the problem was assessed by a specialist on Friday and the cause identified as an unrelated stress fracture. 

Duffy introduced trialist defender Jack Iredale in the final 30 minutes of Morton’s 6-1 rout over Turriff United on Saturday as he looks at possible cover in the centre-half area, with skipper Lee Kilday also set to miss Saturday’s season opener against Berwick Rangers in the Betfred Cup at Shielfield Park.

Duffy said: “We had a real blow when we discovered Thomas has a stress fracture in his ankle, so he’s going to be out for a number of weeks now.

“He had a clean-up operation in the summer, but this is just random. It’s not anything to do with that; it’s just one of these unfortunate things that happen.

“He picked it up in the first week of pre-season. In the next week he didn’t train, and we just thought it was maybe inflammation as part of the recovery or a reaction, but he wasn’t able to shrug it off.

“So we knew there was something untoward and he went for a scan, and it’s shown that he’s got a stress fracture.” 

“Young Jack [Iredale] has just turned 21 in May and he’s a player who was brought to our attention.

“We had him in and played him in a bounce game. 

“Then we brought him up and will have him in for training and have a look at it.

“Thomas was only identified on Friday after a scan so we’ll take a few days to properly assess it and we’ll decide whether we need to look at that area or not.”

Striker Bob McHugh continued his fine pre-season form by firing home a hat-trick in Ton’s victory at The Haughs.

Fellow summer arrival Robert Thomson, stand-in captain Michael Tidser and Scott Tiffoney also got on the scoresheet against the Highland League outfit.