LEWIS MORGAN will swap the black and white of St Mirren for the green and white of Celtic sooner rather than later. It is in stripes rather than hoops where he will continue to shine this season, however.

The Renfrewshire derby meeting with Morton this afternoon could prove to be Morgan’s final game before he puts pen-to-paper at Parkhead but his time away from Paisley will only be temporary this term. It will be a dream move for the 21-year-old, but he has other ambitions to achieve first and foremost.

Morgan took his tally for the campaign to 12 with the brace that beat Dundee United on Friday evening and moved St Mirren five points clear at the top of the Championship.

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And keeper Craig Samson is pleased Jack Ross’ side will be able to benefit from the talents of their prodigious young talent for the remainder of the second tier title race.

He said: "I don't think the club are willing to let Lewis to go to a club where he wouldn't come back here.

“That was what I'd heard at the beginning of the season and I don't think anything has changed now. I think within the dressing room and the club we all know what Lewis is doing.

“As far as I am aware he will still be a St Mirren player until the end of the season, whether he signs for someone and comes back on loan to us.

“But he showed his quality against United. He wasn't brilliant in the first half, but in the second half he pops up and shows that wee bit of quality for us and that made all the difference.

"Any team that has Lewis in it has got a real advantage because he's a fantastic talent and he's got a real chance. The club that he's going to are getting a top, top player."

The two moments of individual magic from Morgan proved decisive as the Saints rounded off a rollercoaster year on a high note, and top of the table.

But his contribution wasn’t the only significant one for St Mirren. Had Samson not saved Paul McMullan’s penalty after just 13 minutes, the outcome could have been very different at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

"I don't think I had another save in the game to be honest,” Samson said. “I didn't have a great deal to do, but sometimes you get lucky - you go the right way and you save the penalty. They were on top for maybe the first ten minutes so it gave us a real incentive to kick on."

There is still plenty of work to be done for the Buddies as they set their sights on a return to the Premiership after a series of struggles in recent seasons.

As the weeks go by and the points are added to their tally, the finishing line draws ever nearer and the dream edges closer to becoming a reality.

"United have got a game in hand and it's a hard one down at Queen of the South,” Samson said.

“All we can do is tick off the games as they come. We have the mentality of trying to win every match and that's how we approached it against United.

“We knew how we were going to go about it and the players carried out the manager's tactics and then Lewis pops up with two goals.

"The manager has been trying to install into us from the very first day of the season that belief that we can go on and win the league. We will certainly challenge and be up there.

“The more games you win, the more belief you get and if that belief keeps growing...who knows."

Having rounded off 2017 with a win over their title rivals, St Mirren will begin the New Year with a derby clash against their oldest foes at Cappielow.

The Buddies crashed to a 4-1 defeat in Greenock on the second weekend of the campaign and were held to a 2-2 draw on home soil in October.

The opposition adds an extra layer of intrigue but the goal and the reward remains the same for Ross and his players.

Samson said: "We've had a hard run of fixtures and going to Morton is never easy. We've had a good win against Dundee United.

“It wasn't the best spectacle of a game, but to go into the derby with a bit of confidence is great.

"It's a derby. It doesn't matter where it is. The first game against them we got a man sent off before half time and they went on to win the game comfortably.

“We've not beaten Morton yet this season. It's down to us to put that right and try and get a victory. It doesn't matter if it's Morton or anyone else, we have to try and win every game. “We have had a hard run of games and as a group I think we are growing and getting stronger. We are getting belief."