Hearts manager Robbie Neilson says goalkeeper Craig Gordon can continue to play at a high level for ‘a number of years’ after selecting him as captain.

The 38-year-old joined Hearts from Celtic last season and helped the Tynecastle club win the Scottish Championship. Now ahead of their return to the cinch Premiership, Neilson gives Gordon – who he played with as a player – the armband. He takes it from Steven Naismith, who has retired to become football development manager at the club.

Heart of Midlothian v Dundee - Scottish Championship

Gordon is Hearts captain. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Gordon is already back in training following Scotland’s run at Euro 2020, having been part of Steve Clarke’s squad for the nation’s first major tournament since 1998. Neilson said: “We spoke to the players today and Craig will be the captain for the coming season.

“Last season, I thought he did really well. He’s got brilliant experience, great leadership capabilities and he’s played at the highest level for a long, long time. Obviously, he came through the Hearts academy system as well. I’m delighted to have him as the captain this season and I’m sure he’ll do well.

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“He’s very popular. He leads by example. He’s been over the course in football for a number of years, played at the highest level, played international and still playing international, he went away to the Euros which was great, and we hope he continues to play at that level for us for a number of years.

Scotland Portraits - UEFA Euro 2020

Back from the Euros. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

“I think it’s always good to have the guys further back that can communicate. With Craig and his leadership skills you can see it about the place. He’s a top character and he’s definitely earned the job as captain for the club.”

Neilson adds that Gordon is fit and available for Hearts ahead of this weekend’s Premier Sports Cup opener against Peterhead after Scotland exertions last month: “We gave him a couple of weeks off. But he is ready to come back. He needed a few days to settle down and see the family. But he’s back now.”

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