Hearts have appointed Perry Kitchen as their new club captain in place of Alim Ozturk.
In a surprise move, head coach Robbie Neilson explained that Kitchen’s application since arriving in Edinburgh in February had earned him the armband. It remains to be seen what the long-term future holds for Ozturk, the Turkish defender who is out of contract at the end of the season.
Kitchen is seen as a key component of the Hearts team and is a full internationalist with the United States. He is already a fans’ favourite despite playing in Scotland for just seven months.
“I’ve been impressed by Perry’s attitude, desire and, of course, his performances from day one,” Neilson told the Hearts website.
“He’s a natural and leads by example both on and off the park. He’s also a really good player and will inspire those around him to reach the highest standards.
“Ideally, we want 11 captains on the pitch every week. In recent times we’ve had Don Cowie lead the team out and Alim Ozturk skippered us to third place last season, so there’s that experience already there that will help us through games.”
Neilson stressed that Ozturk, left out of the starting line-up for the last month, still has a role to play for the rest of the season. “I’d like to thank Alim for the huge part he played, and will continue to play, in helping the team to the top end of the league.
“It’s now Perry’s time to take over that responsibility and I’ve absolutely no doubt that he will flourish in the role of Hearts captain.”