MORTON fought off competition to yesterday clinch the signing of Queen of the South forward Gary Oliver on a two-year deal, the Tele can exclusively reveal.

It is understood that the Cappielow outfit paid a nominal fee to secure the 20-year-old’s services after he was offered a two-year contract extension by the Doonhamers.

Transfer regulations state that a club is entitled to compensation if they offer new terms to a player under the age of 23 which he subsequently rejects to sign for another side.

Oliver elected to leave Queens upon the expiry of the season-long deal penned last September and is believed to have snubbed interest from St Mirren and Plymouth Argyle to sign with the Ton.

The former Hearts youth, who is comfortable on the either flank or through the middle, is the nephew of Greenock gaffer Jim Duffy. 

Duffy told the Tele: “We have completed the signing of Gary Oliver and we’re delighted to have him on board.

“He is a really talented player who can give us a wee bit more composure in the final third. I thought he was terrific for Queen of the South in the second half of last season.

“At 20 years old I’m sure there is plenty more to come from him. 

“He has got great potential and hopefully he can fulfil it with us.”

After coming through the youth system at Hearts and making 25 first-team appearances between 2013 and 2015, Oliver was sold to the Palmerston Park side for an undisclosed fee last September.

Oliver went on to make 16 starts and 13 substitute appearances in all competitions for Queens last term, starting three of the four Championship fixtures against Morton. 

The versatile frontman partnered Derek Lyle up top in the 2-2 draw in Dumfries in September and was deployed on the right of a midfield four as Ton won 2-0 at Cappielow in November.

He started on the left in the last league meeting between the sides, a match in which he scored a stunning goal at the Sinclair Street end as Queens fought back to 3-2 from 3-0 down.

Oliver was a real thorn in Ton’s side on that March midweek evening, and Duffy expressed his admiration for the youngster’s abilities during a post-match interview with the Tele.

The former Scotland Under-19 cap also played against his uncle’s team during a loan stint at Stenhousemuir in 2014-15, starting on the right in a 2-1 win at Ochilview and in the hole in a 3-1 loss at Cappielow.