MORTON gaffer Gus MacPherson praised the character of full-back Lewis Strapp after returning to the first team playing out of position.
The academy graduate has been out since last month’s 2-0 loss to Inverness Caley Thistle.
With Brian McLean ruled out of last Saturday’s clash against Kilmarnock due to injury, the 21-year-old has resolved a defensive headache by playing an unknown center-back role.
MacPherson praised Strapp’s performance against a powerful Killie strike force as his team prepare for another crucial meeting against Raith Rovers tomorrow.
He told Tele: “The players have been great, they have been really, really good to work with.
“Even when challenged and obstacles thrown in their direction, they stood up and did themselves proud.
“Strappy was excellent entering center against Kilmarnock last week.
“He and Alan Lithgow fought very well against a powerful front line and looked good on the play.
“It was a toss as to where we made the switch in that regard, but that wasn’t the issue last weekend.
“He defended really well and he did his job, which is the most important thing.
“We played it on the left side of a back three usually, but we still play a back four against Kilmarnock.
“We had to do this in order to carry out our game plan against them.
“When you’re missing two center-backs from your normal squad selection, it’s always going to raise eyebrows when it comes to selection.”
The boss of Ton is happy to welcome Jaakko Oksanen and Oisin McEntee again for the trip to Fife after an international mission with the Republic of Ireland and Finland.
MacPherson is delighted that his loan stars are receiving international recognition as it strengthens the club’s profile.
He said: “They are both good players in their own right.
“They’re young, they’re development players – just like Jimmy Knowles and Tom Allan – and it’s part of their development that they come to experience real football.
“Jaakko and Tom already had it, it’s Oisin’s first loan and he’s done really well during his time here.
“It can only mean good things for the club’s profile that they get international recognition during their time here and that we have been trusted with their development.”
MacPherson says his players must savor tomorrow’s Stark’s Park meeting as they aim to move away from the relegation zone.
He said: “We can only take care of ourselves and prepare properly and make sure the players know what is expected of them.
“Every game is a big game, whether it’s in the league, the Challenge Cup or the Scottish Cup or, they’re all big games, but when you’re a player, these are the games you want to be in.
“You want to be involved in these kinds of games against teams like Raith Rovers. These are big challenges and we just have to make sure we do what we can to be competitive in these games.”