Kitchen replaces Ozturk as Hearts captain as Anderson takes St Johnstone armband

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Perry Kitchen and Alim Ozturk
Kitchen will replace Ozturk as Hearts skipper

Perry Kitchen has been appointed Hearts' new captain and backed Alim Ozturk to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the armband.

Ozturk, who skippered the side to third place in the Premiership last season, has played only once this term.

"It is a tough position for him to be in," United States midfielder Kitchen told BBC Scotland.

"But he's a good professional, a good player and he'll respond in the right way."

Hearts made the announcement shortly after top-flight rivals St Johnstone also appointed a new skipper.

Steven Anderson has taken over from the retired Dave Mackay and manager Tommy Wright told the club website: external-link"It was an easy decision for me.

"Steven is the longest-serving player at the club, a leader on the pitch and is perfect to follow in Dave's footsteps."

Kitchen, who has made five appearances for Hearts this season, only joined the Edinburgh club in March after leaving DC United.

Steven Anderson
Anderson has made over 360 appearances for Saints

Asked if he was surprised to be named captain so soon, he said: "A bit if I'm honest.

"But I'm honoured to have this role and I'm looking forward to it.

"Wearing the armband is a huge honour, especially at a club like this."

It is not the first time Kitchen has been a team captain and he does not expect to have to change his game.

"This is my first time as a professional, but I have with youth teams," he revealed.

"It is certainly more responsibility, but I just have to be me and keep doing what I've been doing."

Fellow midfielder Don Cowie had been given the armband in recent Hearts matches in the absence of Turkish central defender Ozturk, who signed a three-year contract when arriving from Trabzonspor in 2014.

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson told his club website:external-link "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."