MORTON boss Jim Duffy has recruited former midfielder Conor Pepper to assist with the coaching duties in the under-20s squad.

Irishman Pepper will help fill the void after previous under-20s coach Darren Barr left the club to take up a playing role with Stirling Albion before the closure of last month’s transfer window. 

Pepper, 23, has been working on his fitness at the club’s Parklea training base after missing two years of his career due to a horrific knee injury.

The one-time Inverness Caley Thistle starlet hasn’t kicked a ball since February 2016, after he sustained a detached kneecap playing for Ton during a 3-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road.

Since then Pepper’s had a series of operations on his knee and been told by some medics that his career was effectively over.

However, the determined youngster sought help from surgeons down south last year and they gave him a positive prognosis after more surgery.

Now Pepper hopes to resurrect his career at a future date and, in the meantime, help develop Morton’s latest crop of young talent.

Manager Duffy said: “Conor’s such an infectious character and a likeable boy, so we gave him the full facilities here, in order to try to help with his rehab. And that’s exactly what he’s done.

“It’s much more motivational when you are around other players as opposed to being on your own, so that’s the first thing.

“In the short term, he’s helping out on the coaching side of it because Darren’s [Barr] gone.

“So he’s helping out with that and his infectious enthusiasm will be vital for the young players.

“And he’s here, he’s done his B Licence, and although he’s very young at 23 years of age, he enjoys it.

“This is a motivational tool for him and, in the meantime, he can also join in the training with the young boys.”

Duffy, though, has told how Pepper will eventually come to a crossroads and will have to test himself to see if he can return to the game he loves.

He said: “We’ll see what happens over the next period of time but there will come a time when he’s going to have to give it a go. We’ll wait and see.

“I wouldn’t put any timescale on it. He’s not yet got involved in tackling and the real competitive aspect of it; the full impact training, so once he gets up to that speed, then we’ll look at it further down the line.”

He added: “At the moment he’s here to help with his rehab, work with the players and he’s helping us out in the short term with the kids, which is great.”

In other news goalkeeper Jamie McGowan was last night due to undergo surgery on his dislocated shoulder.

The 21-year-old sustained the injury during a Development League West Fixture at Queen’s Park in November.

And Duffy is waiting to hear the result of the operation.

He said: “I sent him a text to wish him all the best.

“We won’t know how he is until they go in and repair the damage. It’ll just be about recovery after that, and the period of recovery.”