DEREK Gaston says he and his team-mates are treating this season’s Betfred Cup as seriously as they did last season — and hopes they go even further than last term’s incredible run to the semi-final.

Ton made it all the way to Hampden in the competition, where they were eventually beaten by Aberdeen despite a valiant effort. 

Gaston reckons his troops can do it again as long as they ‘hit the ground running’ in the group stage as they did in last season’s run. 

This weekend sees Morton travel to Berwick Rangers to kick off their campaign and Gaston is hopeful his side can get off to a good start. 

The stopper insists he loves getting the competitive action started as soon as possible - even if other teams may treat the Betfred Cup as a ‘glorified pre-season’.

He told the Tele: “I like the idea of the Betfred group stage. I think a few folk maybe weren’t too keen on it but I like the idea that we’re into competitive matches right away. 

“Some teams might play a weaker team or treat it as glorified pre-season games, but that certainly wasn’t the case for us last season.

“It won’t be the case this season. I enjoy it and it makes pre-season seem a lot shorter because you’re only back three or four weeks and are straight back into competitive games.

"You’ve got to get going right from the start because obviously it’s tough.

“Last season we obviously managed to get to the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, so it’s important to hit the ground running straight away if you want to have another day like that in the cup. 

“We’d love to have another good wee run in all the cups this season.”

Ton have been back in pre-season for a number of weeks already, having played friendlies against Partick Thistle, Stenhousemuir and Turriff United so far. Add to that the games played behind closed doors against Airdrie and Ayr United and Jim Duffy’s men have began with a busy schedule.

But Gaston is pleased to return to match action, having already been put through his paces in the first week of pre-season with intense running and fitness regimes.

He said: “You miss it when you’re not there but the first few weeks especially are really tough. So nobody really enjoys the running all that much! It’s good to be back but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it with some of the sessions you do!

“After you’ve done the running though, you feel good, and you feel the benefit. And then there’s the pre-season friendlies that have started because that’s a lot better, and you get into the feel of it because there are games at the end of the week.

“Everyone has a wee moan about the running but we all love it, really.”