First Team

The time was right

23rd September 2016

It felt right to hand armband to Perry, insists Robbie.

Robbie Neilson felt the time was right to hand Perry Kitchen the captain’s armband and believes he is the ideal person to lead the team forward.

The US international was named Hearts’ new captain on Wednesday and is expected to lead the team out against Ross County tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking to the media ahead of the Tynecastle clash with The Staggies, Head Coach Robbie Neilson explained his decision.

“I just felt it was the right thing to do at the right time,” said Robbie.

“Perry came in back in January and he’s proven to be a real leader in the group. I felt he had established that leadership within the group.

“When things are going well it’s the right time to make big decisions. I felt this was the right time to do it.

“His performance on the pitch have been really good, second to none really. He’s an American international and he’s lead the team on the park.

“He’s a great character to have around. He’s one that leads the training, the gym work and all that – I just felt his all-round character was the right fit.

“I explained the situation to Alim and and he understood it and accepted it. It’s now a case of him focusing on his game and trying to get himself back in the team.

“He’s a top player, as he’s proven over the last couple of years. He’ll get back in the team, we’ve got four good centre halves here.

“Take Krystian Nowak for instance, he’s not had a chance yet because Igor (Rossi) and John (Souttar) have been playing well. But we’ve got four good defenders and they’re all fighting for a place.”

The Jambos will look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to St Johnstone by picking up the three points against Jim McIntyre’s men. Robbie is confident they can return to winning ways if they keep carving out the type of chances they had at McDiarmid Park.

“On another day we could have scored three or four at St Johnstone.

“The most worrying thing in football is when you’re not creating chances, but this season we’re creating plenty.

“So if we take those attacking performances into Saturday’s game then I’m sure we will win.”