We’d welcome loan players back with open arms

Manager Jonatan Johansson says he would welcome Morton’s loan players back to Cappielow with open arms should the opportunity present itself next season.

The Greenock gaffer brought Rangers duo Robby McCrorie and Andrew Dallas to the club before adding Keelan O’Connell from Bournemouth and Kilmarnock’s Greg Kiltie towards the end of the January transfer window.

Johansson has been impressed by the impact made by his loan recruits and would be keen to work with them again next term if their respective parent clubs prove receptive to a Ton return.

He told gmfc.net: “Greg has been fantastic. It’s funny how football works sometimes, because he was a young player when I was a Motherwell coach and I remember how much I rated him then.

“When I thought I could maybe get him, I got in touch with Kilmarnock assistant manager Alex Dyer and said: ‘If you’re thinking of putting him out on loan bear us in mind’ and really pushed for it and remained patient.

“He came and was desperate to do well for us and kickstart his career – and he thought Morton was the perfect place to do it. He’s certainly done that. You can’t ask for more from a loan player.

“Some loan players go to club and think that they will use the time to get match fitness, score some goals and get back to their parent club without maybe having that last bit of hunger that you need to do well. Greg has that.

“Is there any chance Greg could be playing at Morton next season? You always have to believe. He will be going back to Kilmarnock in the summer for pre-season, and I do think he will really push for a place in the team.

“But me and Greg have struck up a good relationship and, if it was a possibility, or if Kilmarnock felt they wanted to send him on loan, I think we would be very well placed to get him again.

“I will probably be stalking Alex Dyer over the summer and annoying him as much as I can to ask the question! And if the situation arises, of course I would certainly push the boat out for Greg as much as I could.”

Goalkeeper McCrorie has caught the eye between the sticks, keeping back-to-back clean sheets in his last two outings, and Johansson added: “Robby, as another loan player, has showed the potential he has.

“He’s been a big part of the clean sheets we’ve been having, and he’s definitely somebody I would take back again. Robby is someone I worked with at Rangers and impressed me.

“We used to set up the training pitch at 8.30am in the morning, and Robby was always one of the younger players who helped me set up, so I got to know him quite well.

“I really like him as a kid, his brother as well, they are great professionals, and if he isn’t considered ready for Rangers’ first-team then I will definitely ask the question.

“Keepers are a bit more tricky to wait for because the games start early and you need to get your keepers sorted for games beginning.

“But Robby is someone I will keep in touch with anyway. He’s done really well for me in all the games, even when the chips were down a little bit, and produced a lot of important saves.”

Forward Dallas has not seen as much game time as Kiltie and McCrorie, but the Greenock gaffer believes this season has been an important learning curve for the 19-year-old.

He explained: “Andy was on loan with Stenhousemuir, but apart from that short spell, a first-team was always going to be totally new surroundings for him with totally new expectation levels, physicality, aggression.

“He was coming from an academy set-up, from a team that always keeps the ball, create a lot of chances, play the ball on the ground and get a low of crosses in the box in very tactical games.

“It’s a totally different enviornment, so it was always going to take more time for him to adjust, and that was the case. But I’m happy with his attitude.

“He’s got a great willingness to learn and we have seen flashes of his pace and his attacking threat, especially against Falkirk when he played a part in both goals after coming on as a sub. He will only get better with age.

“So the contacts that I have with the likes of Rangers, Aberdeen, and Kilmarnock combined with the contacts Housty has, we will definitely use the loan market again.

“To make us sustainable and successful, using the loan market is something we need to get right. And if you do you can get players you couldn’t otherwise afford who can make the difference.”


Images: David Bell