Colin Calderwood claims Derek Riordan can thrive in captaincy role

HIBERNIAN manager Colin Calderwood believes handing the captaincy to Derek Riordan will help make the striker a better player.

With club skipper Chris Hogg and Kevin McBride, who wore the armband after Hogg was dropped earlier in the season, both relegated to the bench at Tannadice, Calderwood opted to make Riordan his on-field leader for the last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Dundee United on Saturday.

Having been deprived the services of the Scotland cap from the start because of injury for his debut match in charge against Aberdeen the previous weekend, Calderwood's decision was a vote of confidence in the 27-year-old.

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Riordan's reputation has suffered in the past due to a handful of off-field incidents, while he also found himself in dispute with his own club after being fined last season for criticising the Easter Road pitch.

However, Calderwood reckons Riordan, who has netted three times so far this season, will benefit from taking on the added role of captaining his team. He said: "We need a captain and he's the leading goal scorer in the team. He's been here a while and the responsibility of being the captain and leader of the group will help him, I think."

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As captain, Riordan may rue his decision to allow John Rankin to take the penalty awarded to Hibs at Tannadice, with the midfielder's effort blocked by the legs of United keeper Dusan Pernis. It proved to be a costly miss as the home side went on to snatch all three points courtesy of David Goodwillie's late winner. Nevertheless, Calderwood saw plenty signs of progress from the 4-2 defeat at Aberdeen seven days earlier. He said: "I enjoyed the way we played, I thought we had a threat when we did play and I thought we coped reasonably well with Dundee United. As everybody knows, it's a difficult place to get a point but we gave ourselves a chance by staying in the first half and we had the best chance with the penalty kick.

"We just had to see the game out. That was the real frustration, that we didn't do what we had done for the 85 or 86 minutes previous to that and make sure we kept a clean sheet. (In attack), it wasn't perfect, because we didn't score a goal, but I thought it was a well-rounded performance from us."

Despite the perceived improvement, Hibs could face Hearts on Sunday bottom of the league if St Mirren take something from their match with Rangers two hours earlier. After trips to Pittodrie and Tannadice, the Edinburgh derby continues the baptism of fire for Calderwood since succeeding John Hughes last month, but the former Scotland defender is hoping the match will not distract his squad from continuing their learning curve under him. "Emotionally, I think (the derby) will take care of itself," he said.