Jim Duffy fears permanent Declan McManus move is beyond Morton

Declan McManus in action for Scotland Under-21s
Declan McManus has been capped twice by Scotland Under-21s

Greenock Morton manager Jim Duffy would jump at the chance to sign Declan McManus permanently but fears that opportunity will not present itself.

The on-loan Aberdeen striker has scored 19 times for The Ton and is out of contract at Pittodrie in the summer.

"I'm sure the goals he's scored will have alerted a number of top clubs in Scotland and down south," said Duffy.

"If Aberdeen don't offer him a contract he'll have lots of possibilities. We'd certainly put our hat into the ring."

McManus, 20, has helped the Greenock side be serious contenders for promotion to the Scottish Championship and Duffy is keen to stress his creative contribution is appreciated equally as much as his scoring record.

Morton sit third on 60 points in League One with three matches remaining. The Cappielow club are one point behind Stranraer and three off leaders Forfar Athletic.

Jim Duffy
Jim Duffy has experience managing in all four Scottish senior leagues and in England with Norwich City

Only one goal separates the three teams on goal difference.

"There's only a fraction between the clubs and Forfar are in pole position," Duffy told BBC Scotland.

"They've got an experienced manager in Dick Campbell and experience right through their team, with some terrifically talented players who have played at the top level and know how to handle the situation.

"I'm also a huge admirer of Stevie Aitken (Stranraer manager). I voted for him as manager of the year last year and again another phenomenal job this year.

"The managers understand how difficult it us. We're not losing sleep, but nevertheless there's huge importance for any team trying to achieve promotion. It's an extremely difficult league.

A rivalry renewed?
"Although there is a huge rivalry there and St Mirren are currently struggling, I'm never one for wanting a team relegated. "I've been there myself and it's such a traumatic event for the club. "From my point of view, no matter who's in the league, if we're competing in it, it would be fantastic."

"It's been an education for some of the young players I have. I'm not saying they underestimated it, but maybe didn't fully appreciate how difficult and talented a league it is."

After missing out on promotion to the top flight under Allan Moore in the 2012-13 season, Morton were relegated from the Championship at the end of last season.

Duffy, who played for the club between 1982 and 1985, was hired as boss as chairman Douglas Rae sought to steer his club back up into the second tier.

"It's a team that's close to my heart because they gave me the chance to play first-team football and that ultimately gave me a platform to have a career in football," said Duffy.

"So I have a great affection for them, but it will only be a good fit if we manage to be successful. If you don't do well, it doesn't matter how comfortable you feel in the job or how much enjoyment you get from the job.

"You have expectations of success and you've got to try and manage those and ultimately deliver them.

"They're full-time and it's a huge financial investment for the chairman. He has put his hand in his pocket many, many times over the years and there may come a time when he'll think about whether he can continue to do that or not.

"So it would be a huge benefit if we manage to get into the Championship. It's the healthiest Championship than it's ever been and it still will be next year.

"It would be fantastic, but there's an awful lot of work to achieve that."

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