MORTON legend Andy Ritchie has today backed David Hopkin's young squad to be a surprise package in this season's Championship campaign.

The former Ton winger saw first-hand the hard work being put in over the course of pre-season and he believes they can better last term's seventh-place finish if they make a strong start to the campaign.

Ritchie has been impressed with Ton manager Hopkin and says he can get the best out his young guns as they continue their preparations to come out of a six-month hiatus against Queen of the South on October 6 in the Betfred Cup.

He told the Tele: “Everything’s a bit strange but we all have to adapt and we’ll get there.

“Morton and more specifically the manager will be looking to get the best out of the players in this league and the ones that have experience.

“They’re a good batch of boys who’ve all come in from last year.

"I think I can speak for everyone, they won’t have played as much as they’d have wanted to after Christmas because of the situation we find ourselves in.

“Hopefully the younger players and the new players can hit the ground running because if that happens then we can come back at Christmas and be able to positively re-evaluate things.

“In relative terms, it is a young squad but having younger players has never hurt anyone and there are three or four players there who have Championship experience.

“The squad impressed over the course of the season and got better as the games went on.

“It’s important that they hit the ground running, especially when they’re that bit younger.

“Hoppy knows how to and he will get the best out of the players, he’s been over the course before.

“I just saw a couple of weeks ago in training how happy the group were.

“He’d turned 50 a couple of weeks ago and you wouldn’t have thought that because he’s an experienced manager.

“He’s been here and done it before with Livingston where he had great success.

“That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, he knows the template required to get teams out of the Championship.

“You never know, with a bit of support he might be able to turn it round about like that.

“He’ll be in the same position as everyone else in the league though, you really need to get off to a good start.”

Ritchie says he's expecting another extremely competitive Championship campaign in what will be a condensed season.

He believes that it is the perfect environment for young players to develop their trade which ties in with Morton’s reputation of bringing through young talent.

He said: “The Championship is an exceedingly difficult league to play in, but it’s also a good league for young players to learn their trade.

“Morton have always had a reputation of bringing in young players and this is what they’re about, giving them a platform to go and play.

“I think the league is going to be extremely competitive again like it was last year and the year before that.

“The Championship will always be like that, it’s a competition where there are massive prizes for everyone at the end of it, so it’s got to be that way."