Date:Sunday September 24 2006
With Lucas Neill's Blackburn Rovers future anything but certain to be at Ewood Park many see his installation as Rovers captain as a surprising choice, Mark Hughes is in no doubts he has the right man for the job.
Having so far refused to sign a new contract not everyone has agreed with Hughes' decision of promoting Neill to the status of captain due to Andy Todd being out of form and out of the side, and the obvious other choice The Admiral Ryan Nelsen currently out injured, but Hughes thinks he is without doubt the right man for the job:
"I don't know why some people should have a problem with Lucas being captain because whenever he has had the responsibility in the past, he has taken it and done well.
"He drives himself and his team-mates on, he is vocal in the dressing room, and he makes demands of himself."
Many people feel that as he has so far been unwilling to sign a new deal with Rovers he is unworthy of the highest honour possible to a player of captaining the side, however since the move to Anfield failed to materialise on transfer deadline day Hughes says he can't fault the Australian Internationals attitude and commitment:
"He may well have been disappointed to have missed out on a move to Liverpool, but it hasn't affected his performance on the pitch or on the training ground.
"I just judge him on the way he approaches his work, and what he tries to do for the team.
"He is playing well and I see him as the best guy for the armband at the moment."
Picking Neill as captain may well be an unusual choice due to the circumstances surrounding his contract situation and long term Rovers future, however your captain needs to be a man who will play week in week who also has experience, and Neill certainly fits the bill on both counts.
"The fans may think it's an unusual choice because of the uncertainty surrounding Lucas's future.
"But my only issue is how well he plays and the influence he has on the team, and he has been doing well in both respects," would also be added by Hughes.
When fit Nelsen will take over the captaincy, and if he didn't I'd be amazed, but in his absence the only other genuine candidate for me would be Tugay, but he won't play week in week out. Brad Friedel could do the job, but I personally don't like goalkeepers as captains. Robbie Savage has captained sides before but he's not the man for me, which leaves only Andre Ooijer, but until he fully settles in it couldn't be an option, besides Neill had taken the armband before the Dutchman's arrival.
It is no secret that Hughes still hopes to convince Neill to stay at Ewood Park, so maybe making Neill captain may be a way of Hughes reaffirming just how much he means to him and wants him to stay. Hughes would finish by saying:
"His future has still to be resolved, but it's probably a bit too soon to start addressing that, at this stage, so we'll look at it again in a month or so."
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Date:Sunday September 24 2006
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