BRENDAN Pearson sees Derek Gaston’s departure from Morton as a huge opportunity for him to establish himself as the club’s number one.

Gaston, who had been at Cappielow since 2012 and made over 200 appearances during his seven-year stint, announced last week he was leaving the Ton.

Pearson, inset, is signed up for next season already and is the only goalkeeper at the club under new manager David Hopkin.

The 22-year-old admits it’s a big season for him, and hopes to make the step-up to the first team after playing for Morton’s reserves for the last few months after joining in January.

He told the Tele: “It’s a shame to see Derek go. He was a great lad to have around. He had masses of experience, he was a good character, he was always smiling.

“But for myself I’m trying to push for that number one spot. It’ll be a good test for me and from the start of pre-season and we’ll take it from there.

“After not playing football for so long and playing reserve football, playing week-in, week-out, it’s the most games I’ve had in a long time.”

Pearson had struggled with patella tendonitis in recent times – a serious knee condition which left him sidelined for almost two years.

After leaving Newcastle United’s academy last summer he briefly joined South Shields before moving north of the border earlier this year.

At 22 he’s never managed to stake a claim in a competitive first team environment yet, and Pearson says it’s a huge year in his development to try and prove himself.

He added: “My injuries have been fine and now it’s time for me to push on for that number one jersey.

“It’s good to get back to the day-to-day routine, I was part-time for a bit and the routine is not the same.

“I’m 22-years-old now and it will be the biggest year of football for me by far.

“I want to push on. I’ve had a few injuries in the past that have put me back but I’ve got the opportunity and I’m feeling the best I’ve felt mentally and physically in a long time. I want to get that number one jersey and play week-in, week-out, whatever the gaffer wants me to do and I’ve just got to prepare right and impress.”

Pearson says he is excited to return for pre-season next month, especially after seeing assistant Anton McElhone, above, had previously worked with former Blackburn Rovers and USA international goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

He added: “They look like they’ve got a lot of experience, the gaffer did well with Livingston in the past which is great, it’s what you want to see, it’ll be exciting.

“The assistant has had experience with Brad Friedel as well so it will be interesting to see what his experiences were like with him obviously being a goalkeeper myself as well, he had a great career.

“It looks like two great appointments by the club.”