Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith Handed the Captain's Armband; Hughton Turns to Ex-England Man for Leadership in Dressing Room

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Smith Handed the Captain's Armband; Hughton Turns to Ex-England Man for Leadership in Dressing Room

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

ALAN Smith has been confirmed as Newcastle United's new captain as the Magpies frantically look for some sort of leadership in the dressing room despite the ongoing problems surrounding the club.

Although Smith has often struggled to hold down a regular place in the side during two injury disrupted years at St James's Park, his personality made him the obvious choice to lead the side, according to caretaker manager Chris Hughton.

Smith (pictured) has been a loud and powerful voice behind the scenes and has helped organise the players during preseason training in the absence of a specialist manager with the help of other prominent senior players Steve Harper and Geremi.

And Hughton had no doubts about handing him the captain's armband for the opening game of the season at West Bromwich Albion as Nicky Butt is missing with a dislocated thumb.

Hughton said: "Alan will be captain in Nicky Butt's absence. Alan's one that's had a good pre-season and I've seen leadership qualities in him.

"He's respected by all the lads and he's a player of experience and that lends itself to that position. In this period I have to name a captain we all know. If it changes, somebody might have their own ideas but with Nicky out, for me it's the right choice."

Smith has played in midfield during United's friendlies, with either Shola Ameobi or Andy Carroll playing as a lone front-man, but it is difficult to know where his favoured position is.

Having started his career at Leeds United as an out-and-out centre-forward, he was switched to the centre of midfield during his time with Manchester United and has also played on the right wing for Newcastle.

Although many expected the 28-yearold to leave the club this summer, he has shown a determination to make the best out of what remains a terrible situation for players at St James's Park. …

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