A FORMER Sheffield United striker and an ex-Birmingham City midfielder were two of the trialists to join in pre-season training with Morton yesterday, the Tele can exclusively reveal.

Frontman Jamie McDonagh is a current Northern Ireland Under-21 international squad member and was recently released by the Bramall Lane outfit.

A youth player with Portadown in his home country before making the move to England, the 20-year-old had spells on loan with Chester City and Alfreton Town last term.

Reece Hales, 21, is an English midfielder who began his career in the Birmingham academy before switching to Kidderminster in July 2014, spending two seasons at the Aggborough Stadium.

The pair have been joined at Parklea by an unnamed Dutch winger, who was spotted in a showcase match organised by Next Level Soccer, and the trio will spend around 10 days training with the Ton.

When asked about the trialists, Ton boss Jim Duffy confirmed: “We have a boy Jamie McDonagh, a striker and Northern Irish youth internationalist who’s 20 years of age.

“He was at Sheffield United for a few years and went out on loan to a couple of non-league clubs last season.

“The other boy is Reece Hales and he is a midfielder. He was at Birmingham a couple of years ago and with a couple of non-league clubs more recently.

“He’s a traditional midfield player. He can get on the ball, make passes or sit and defend. He’s about 6ft, quite a strong, powerful lad with a bit of physicality about him.

“Jamie is a striker with good technique, he’s got a trick, good in one-to-ones and taking people on. He’s quite sharp and alert and looks to get in between defenders.

“I’ve also got another boy in, from the programme that Romario [Sabajo] was involved with, and this is similar — I saw him playing in a trial game during the season just passed and invited him in. He’s Dutch, a wide player, and another one we’re having a look at. 

“He trained on Friday, Saturday and again yesterday.

“Jamie and Reece trained with us for the first time yesterday. There’s not a rigid timescale on how long they’ll be with us, but I do have to make decisions in a relatively short period of time. The players have been asked to come in for around 10 days. 

“It’s not to say I’ll have decided in 10 days, but we’ve said to them that’ll be the minimum requirement.

“That’s because we’ve also got to see them in a couple of game situations. Basically they are here to next Wednesday and we’ll take it from there.”

Duffy is well known for doing his homework on potential recruits and has already been in touch with a number of footballing acquaintances for character references on the trialists.

He added: “The boys were recommended by contacts down south. In Jamie’s case I also spoke to Ronnie McFall, who was Portadown manager for 30 years and knows all the Northern Irish boys.

“I’ve known Ronnie for a long, long time, so I spoke to him and also spoke to Stephen Craigan, who was in charge of the Northern Ireland Under-19s and Jamie played for him. 

“That’s been helpful. Also, people who know me down south know what type of players I like, what kind of characters I like working with, and know I don’t like anybody who comes up here and is a wee bit big time.

“So they’re not going to recommend players to me who are not my cup of tea, so to speak. They felt these boys were worth having a look at, so that’s basically what we’re doing.”