The latest Hearts player to wear the captain’s armband, Peter Haring, says he is not too concerned with the apparent curse that goes with the job. But others at the club are taking no chances.
Since club captain Christophe Berra picked up a serious hamstring tear at the start of the season, John Souttar and Steven Naismith have assumed the on-field leadership role and both have been struck down by long-term injuries. Even Steven MacLean endured misfortune after he took over from his strike partner when Naismith hobbled off in the League Cup semi-final. MacLean was caught on camera grabbing at Celtic’s Eboue Kouassi and issued with a retrospective suspension which caused him to miss the Edinburgh derby.
Manager Craig Levein had to find his fifth captain of the season and next in line was Haring, pictured. But, rather than tempt fate, the Austrian, who led out the team against Hibernian and then against Celtic, was given a new armband.
“Our kit man Goggsy, he gave me a red one because he told me he didn’t want to give me the yellow one,” explained Haring. “I’m not really concerned. When the gaffer gave it to me I was a little bit surprised but I’m proud to wear it. I don’t know where the yellow one is!
“In the morning before the Hibs game I went to [Levein’s] office. First of all he gave me the armband and told me I was going to be captain. I was surprised but I said to him it was a really big honour for me. I’m thankful for that. Then he told me he wanted me to play striker so that was the main theme,” said the player, who was signed as a defender but has played most of his Hearts games in midfield and has proved his versatility when asked to cover up front.
The switch of armband appears to have paid off. Rather than succumb to a major injury, Haring, who had been struggling with a hernia problem and a pinched nerve the medical staff believed was related, is feeling better now than he did in the matches preceding his promotion. There is still the chance he will have to undergo a hernia operation before the season is out but says that is no longer a formality.
“I will see. At the moment I feel good and I feel ready to play. As long as I can play I’ll do that. I felt it more during the Celtic game at Murrayfield. It’s gotten better since then and now I don’t really feel it. I can handle it much better now because I know what I have to do to recover.”
Haring has yet to captain the side to victory, with a draw and a defeat in his two outings, but he hopes that will change today as Hearts look to get back to winning ways at home to Kilmarnock and get the three points that would keep them at the top of the Premiership.
“This game is very important,” he said. “If we win we will be top of the league for the next international break and that is important for us.”