MICHAEL Doyle is confident the Morton rearguard can place the shackles on Declan McManus when they take on Dunfermline this weekend in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Doyle pinpointed the former Ton forward, who scored 23 goals during his stints at Cappielow, as one of the Pars’ chief dangermen.

Doyle is a former team-mate of McManus, inset, after the pair plied their trade with Alloa earlier in their careers. Well travelled McManus started out at Aberdeen before being farmed out to Alloa, Morton and Raith Rovers — with a spell down south with Fleetwood Town sandwiched in between.

Now he’s with Dunfermline where he’s scored 11 goals so far in all competitions — and Doyle, 26, is well versed in what to expect from McManus.

He said: “Declan was with us at Alloa for six months but he had a bit of an unlucky season. 

“You could see he had a lot of talent and a lot of finishing ability but it just wouldn’t go for him. And the year after he left Aberdeen, Morton took him.

“That year he had at Morton, before going down south, was obviously a terrific year.

“It’s no secret that Morton tried to get him back when he came back up the road.

“But he decided he maybe wanted a wee change and he’s obviously doing well there.

“He’s obviously one that a lot of the boys were with at Morton, so I’m sure he keeps in touch with them.”

But Doyle plans to ensure there is no easy route to goal for the talented hitman.

He said: “The defenders are there to defend and we look at the boys we’re playing against — and a lot of the boys in our team will have played against Declan — so we know what he’s capable of if you do give him time.

“But hopefully we’re on the front foot at that point.”

Doyle is also hopeful that his own team’s fortunes in front of goal will improve after being denied by last-ditch clearances off the line during their weekend defeat to Falkirk.

He explained: “Once we find that actual scoring side to us I think we’ll do well.

“Last year we had Ross Forbes and Thomas O’Ware chipping in with goals from corners and free-kicks. That gave us a lot of leeway but there’s a lot of pressure on our strikers this year.

“We do have a good defensive record but we just need to work on putting the ball in the back of the net - even if it’s just a shot that goes in off somebody else.

“That typified us on Saturday. We had so many chances but it just wouldn’t go over the line.

“There’s a barrier to the goal at the moment and it just doesn’t seem to want to go over.

“If one can go in, then I think we’ll be firing on all cylinders.

“Sometimes in football it either happens for you or it doesn’t, it’s not that we don’t want to score goals, we work on that side all the time.”

He added: “It would be different if we didn’t have a shot on goal. Against Brechin recently we had 17 shots but could not get it over, so it’s not as if we’re not creating them. We just need to put them in the back of the net.”