MORTON will this week tie up the signing of striker Denny Johnstone on a season-long loan from Birmingham City, the Tele can exclusively reveal.

Cappielow gaffer Jim Duffy saw his threadbare side lose 3-2 to Dumbarton in the Petrofac Cup first round on Saturday.

With Frank McKeown and Michael Tidser out injured, Ricki Lamie and Michael Miller suspended, and Thomas O’Ware and Joe McKee going off crocked, Duffy was forced to turn to untested teenagers.

When asked if this would be the situation throughout the season, the Ton boss said ‘no’ and confirmed he had already agreed terms for the transfer of former Celtic striker Johnstone, left.

Duffy told the Tele: “No, we would be naïve to think that.

“We would have no chance in this division if it was going to be like that, there’s no disguising that.

“We were stretched to say the least but today was unusual circumstances in that both Ricki and Michael were suspended, and Romario [Sabajo] didn’t have clearance.

“Obviously Frank McKeown is injured, Michael Tidser picked up an injury at training towards the end of the week and we had the two boys [O’Ware and McKee] injured during the game.

“So, we have them to come back and we’re looking to bring a striker in next week, and that will give us a lot more strength.

“We have agreed terms with Denny Johnstone and we’ve got him on a season-long loan from Birmingham.

“He’s a striker who’s got a bit of potential. I knew him from when he was at Celtic and he has played for Scotland through all the youth levels up until 20s.

“We probably need a little bit more than that if truth be told. But obviously we have to understand that there are constraints and we have to have common sense with the players still to come back.” Although he admitted the Sons deserved to progress in Saturday’s Petrofac Cup tie, Duffy sought solace in the fact his team staged a late fightback.

He said: “ We made two basic errors. They were good goals from Dumbarton’s point of view. With the first one the boy’s made a great run [from midfield] and we didn’t track the runner. The second one the ball has taken a deflection off Tam O’Ware’s heel and foxed Gats [Derek Gaston], but overall I didn’t think we were playing that badly.

“The second half is a pretty even game again, but once it gets to 3-0 then you think the game is dead, but credit to the players, they came back.

“They made some mistakes today but they still went at it and tried to get themselves back in the game. The first goal gave us a lifeline and the second goal gives you that wee chance. But to be fair to Dumbarton, I thought they saw out the last five minutes very professionally and didn’t really give us a wee sniff other than one chance for Stef McCluskey. I hope that the fans saw the players’ attitude and desire to keep going and they stick by us on a day like today, because it was a difficult day and we did make some mistakes and we were punished.

“There were two ricochets round about the goal: one in the first half and one in the second half. And you’re thinking if one of them falls to you on a different day it gets you back in the game.

“So there were a couple of wee breaks that didn’t go our way. I was delighted we got a couple of goals to get it back to 3-2, and then Jon Scullion had a chance and Stef had one. Overall, Dumbarton deserved to win, but from our point of view I think we can take a bit of credit out of the game in the sense that we never threw in the towel and kept at it.

“And one or two of the boys learned that the Championship is going to be a real tough league this year, and we have to be better in a lot of areas.”