MORTON manager Jim Duffy has released defenders Frank McKeown, Jordan Cairnie and Luke Irvine, the Tele can exclusively reveal.

Former Stranraer skipper McKeown saw his season decimated by a knee injury which required him to undergo reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.

The 29-year-old centre-half made one eight-minute substitute appearance for the Ton, in a League Cup tie against Elgin City on August 1.

Taking McKeown’s continuing rehabilitation into consideration, Duffy has decided that assessing his condition over pre-season was not feasible with the League Cup starting so early next term.

The Ton boss is yet to release any other senior players, but development squad defenders Cairnie, currently on loan at East Stirling, and Irvine have been told they will not be offered new deals.

Duffy told the Tele: “Frank is a difficult one because he’s a terrific pro who gave it everything to try and get back.

“But unfortunately you have to make tough decisions and I’ve had to make a decision on that one. All I can do is wish him well and hope he is fully recovered. I’m sure he’ll not be short of offers.

“I brought Frank in because I felt in the Championship we wanted someone with experience and who is vocal. Unfortunately for Frank it just didn’t happen because of the injury. If he had maybe two or three bounce games under his belt at this point it might have been different.

“But we’d really have to assess it through the pre-season, and because the season starts so early next year, July 16 in the [League] Cup, I just felt by that time I would’ve had to have the team settled down a little bit.”

He added: “Jordan Cairnie and Luke Irvine we’ve allowed to move on. They are good young players and we wish them well.

“I just feel as if I’m well covered in the centre-back area, an area where the competition is going to be too fierce for them, and it would be difficult for them to push their way into the first team.

“Ultimately they’re at a level and an age now where they have to have some sort of opportunity to push towards the first team.”