ALLAN JOHNSTON says he wants to keep Callum Morris at the club but believes there will be interest in a number of his players this summer.
Morris (below) was the subject of speculation on Tuesday night when it was reported by broadcast media before kick-off at Dundee United that he could be set to leave the club when his short-term deal ends.
The 28-year-old, who told Press Sport afterwards that he had “not spoken to anyone about anything” and that he was just “concentrating on football”, has spoken of his enjoyment of playing again for the club he initially left in the summer of 2014.
Since making his second debut at Alloa in January’s Scottish Cup tie, Morris has been an ever-present in the side and has made 14 appearances in all competitions.
When he asked whether he had heard about any potential interest in the player, Johnston commented: “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of teams looking at our good players.
“Obviously he’s probably one of the players we’d like to try and keep because he’s done really well. He’s a big player for us but it’s not just our decision either.
“We just need to finish the season as strongly as possible; it’s important we get as many wins and good performances now and take that momentum into next season.”
Johnston continued: “We don’t want to let our heads go down.
“We have not got beat in a lot of games lately so it is important that we respond in the right manner and make sure that we get a result at the weekend.”
After the vital derby day delight against Raith Rovers, the Pars were brought back to earth by United and Johnston knows his team need to be more ruthless in front of goal as they look to mount a promotion challenge next season.
Michael Moffat was guilty of failing to make more of Rhys McCabe’s excellent delivery with just Cammy Bell to beat before United went up the other end to score the winner within a minute.
Athletic have scored just once from open play in their last six games – that’s 540 minutes of football – and have failed to beat United in six games this season.
But Johnston countered: “For me there has been a lot of good play; we have created a lot of good chances and have to be more clinical when the chances come along.
“That has probably been our downfall lately but you cannot fault the way the players have played.
“It would’ve been great to put a wee bit pressure on United (in attempting to catch them in fourth place) but it wasn’t to be.
“We were probably on the front foot, dictating the play and then we get the great chance, and we’ve simply got to take it.
“I think if we score it we go on to win the game because we started the game really brightly, but we just couldn’t get that goal we needed.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday.
“That’s what’s good when you have a result that maybe you don’t deserve sometimes; there’s a game that comes around quickly and you have a chance to put it right.”
It’s a Dumbarton team also battling for survival up next for Johnston’s men. And there’s still work to be done as, although Athletic have a cushion, the teams below them, particularly St Mirren, are trying hard to escape the drop.
Johnston admitted: “It’s a hard place to go. “Dumbarton have got a good home record so we’re going to have to make sure we get our heads up, work really hard and make sure we’re ready.
“There’s still work to do (to make sure of safety) but we’re not looking at that anyway.
“We want to end the season as strongly as possible, with as many wins and good performances.”
John Herron didn’t feature in the squad despite being free from suspension and remains a doubt for Saturday’s game after limping out of the draw with Hibs.