ALAN Lithgow insists he's ready to become a rock at the heart of the Morton defence next season after overcoming a two-year injury ordeal.

The 33-year-old former Livingston captain missed most of the past two seasons with a hip problem.

Lithgow was due to go under the knife in March last year to save his career but the operation was postponed for four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He believes that the enforced time off due to lockdown has helped ensure a full recovery and now wants to hit the ground running with pre-season starting on Monday.

He told the Tele: “I’m just chomping at the bit to get going if I’m being honest.

“The last two seasons have been tough because I initially got that injury at the start of the 2019-20 season and then that resulted in other injuries, so it’s really been around two years since I’ve played pain-free.

“I was supposed to get my operation in March last year which coincided with the pandemic starting, so it was postponed until July.

"It coincided with pre-season starting back up again and it was quite a lengthy recovery period from there.

“That’s left me trying to play catch-up from the off because I’d sat for four or five months unable to do anything.

“If I am being honest though, I think the break has done me the world of good.

“It’s allowed me to recover properly, and I’ve come back and felt good, full of energy too.

“My body felt fully recovered as well, which was ideal. I know it sounds selfish but I hope that it can help me continue to play now until I reach my 40s.

“When I got back into things at Livingston I was purely just building up my fitness again, so it was good and I hope I can really just kick on now.

“I worked so hard just to get back into training towards the end of last season.

"I’m not going to say it was a full pre-season but I had to run myself into the ground to get back in contention.

“I’ve been grafting and obviously that training was tailored for my hip. I’m just looking to get the hard work started now because that’s what it’s all about.”

Lithgow expects a tightly contested Championship this season and is confident Morton can go toe-to-toe with relegated Premiership sides Kilmarnock and Hamilton Accies.

He added: “First and foremost, I just want to get back playing now. That will be massive for me and manager wants to build a good team, so hopefully we can do that and see where things take us.

“I never want to look too far ahead and I think it’s been proven from my time at Livingston.

“You look at the teams who’ve come down and look at the games you think you can take points from, but there’s no reason why we can't go and take points from the likes of Killie or Hamilton.

“We all know what the league is like and it will be so tight again this year.”