ANTON McElhone has revealed that Morton must wait to see if the lower leagues resume before they can consider offering a deal to ex-Hamilton winger Justin Johnson.

The Tele revealed on Wednesday that the 24-year-old has been training with the club this week as the Morton boss looks to find a solution to his side's goal drought.

McElhone says that before he can make an offer to the Dutch free agent, he will have to free up some space in his squad by sending young players out on loan to the lower leagues.

All levels below the Championship have been shut down since January due to Covid-19 restrictions, with the situation to be reassessed by the SFA on March 1.

The Morton manger says that ex-Dundee United man will continue to train with his squad.

He told the Tele: “We were notified of Justin’s situation at Hamilton and that he is now a free agent and he has a good pedigree behind him.

“At the moment we aren’t in a position where we can do anything because we’re waiting on the outcome of what’s going to happen with the lower leagues because we’ve got young players here that we want to be getting out on loan and playing football.

“The leagues are obviously shut at the minute and it’s out of our control but that needs to be decided before we look at doing anything else.

“He’s going to be in training with us for the next couple of weeks and then we’ll have a look and assess if he could be someone that could be good for us going forward.

“If he is, then we’ll see if we can find something that works for both parties.

“I’ve said it enough times already, we might not be in the position of offering him anything because of the way that Covid is and the leagues being suspended below us, so it’s one of those things of that he’s purely here to train, with nothing more for now.”

McElhone says he is willing to hand opportunities to Ton’s young talent should they not be able to head out on loan by the end of February.

He has already used the likes of Alexander Easdale, Darren Hynes and Lewis McGrattan to fill his bench since the turn of the year.

He said: “There are players that we would like to get out on loan, but if they end up with us until the end of the season then that’s fine.

“If an opportunity comes to give one of the young players a chance then we will, absolutely.

“We’ve got a decent sized squad here, so it’s going to be that if anyone comes to our attention, then they’ll need to be coming here to add something we don’t have.

“If they’re a free agent and they’re not doing anything, like Justin in this case, then we’ll see if they can come in and help us while we need to score more goals.

“I’m not going to hide from that but going on from that we’ve got a young squad anyway where if you take away Brian McLean and Chris Millar the average age of the team is 22/23.

“Losing Jim [McAlister] has brought the average age down as well.”

McElhone stressed how big an impact the loss of the former Ton skipper has had on the dressing room.

He admits it will be a huge task to fill the void left behind by the 35-year-old.

He said: “The sad bit to that is that we’ve not only lost a great player, but also a great man.

“People underestimate just how much he did at the club and just how highly he performed during the 18 months that I’ve been here anyway.

“It’s a massive loss for us but to flip it into a positive it's up to the young talented players that we’ve got to find a new solution to solve a new problem.

“Jim set the highest standards when he was here and it was always for the good of the team.

“The next guy who comes in to replace him and fill his boots over the next year or so is seriously going to have to go above and beyond to replicate that.

“His jersey has got the highest standard left behind and if someone can come in and either replicate that or raise the bar then what a player we’ll have on our hands.

“That’s purely down to the impact that Jim has had on the club.”