MORTON Under-17s coach Derek Allan will step back from his academy duties next season due to personal circumstances, the Tele can reveal.

Former Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Queen of the South defender Allan has been in charge of the oldest age group since the Ton youth system was revamped in 2012.

It was under his guidance that current first-team regular Mark Russell came to prominence as a standout performer during the 17s’ 2012-13 campaign.

Other graduates who have gone on to appear for the senior side include Craig Knight, Cameron O’Neil, Aidan Ferris, Jordan Cairnie, John Tennent, Thomas Orr and Dylan Stevenson.

But the 41-year-old, whose Ton teens lifted the inaugural CAS Under-17s title in 2014-15, will now take a year-long hiatus before looking to return to the fold in the summer of 2017.

Cappielow director Warren Hawke confirmed: “Derek Allan has been with us from the start at the youth academy and has been the mainstay coach for our Under-17s. But he’s asked to take a year out due to personal circumstances.

Credit to him, rather than just try to muddle through taking nights off here and there, he decided it was best to take a full step back. We’ll replace him as the lead coach, but he’ll still come along to the odd game over the year to keep his eye in.

“And that just sums him up as a person, a coach and as a former player. He wants to give 100 per cent, but because he can’t he would rather take a step back.

“We understand that and we’ll get him back on board again in 12 months’ time. He’s done a very good job, as have all the coaches.

“Having someone with his playing experience and coaching ability at 17s level just before the boys go full-time has been an excellent asset, one that’ll be missed but who we’ll welcome back in future. 

“We should be speaking to the youth academy coaches on Thursday and making a decision on the line-up for next season.”