Robbie Neilson has confirmed that Lawrence Shankland will take the Hearts captain’s armband for the rest of the season following Craig Gordon’s injury.
Veteran goalkeeper Gordon won’t play again this season after suffering a double leg break but will continue to act as club captain during his recovery. Shankland, the club’s top scorer, will take the on-field responsibilities until Gordon returns.
Tynecastle boss Neilson believes it’s an opportunity for the forward to show his leadership skills and continue to grow as a player.
“Lawrence is a leader within the group,” he explained. “I think there is an opportunity with him to develop further.
“Craig Gordon will remain the club captain but we need an on-field captain, day to day and on the pitch and that will be Lawrence. I spoke to a few of the senior players and he was the main candidate for us.
“I’m really pleased with him. I think you could see it improving his game (against St Johnstone), that leadership. The main thing for me is there is development there within him.
“I can see him becoming a real good on-pitch captain. He will stay as the captain (when Craig Halkett is back). He’s got the attributes, he’ll play every week, top goal scorer. He’s got a bit about him as well.”
The manager also elaborated on the role that Gordon can play behind the scenes during his lengthy recovery period.
“I have been speaking to Craig a lot and went to see him on Boxing Day,” Neilson said. “He is very disappointed at what has happened but is now talking about timelines for coming back.
“He’s home, he needs to get back on his feet first and foremost. He will be in with us on Sunday before the derby because he wants to be part of it.
“He will have a huge impact just being here. Firstly, helping Lawrence develop as a captain, along with Robert Snodgrass. Secondly, he can come to games with us and help the coaching staff and look at other aspects of the game.”