Grant McCann is ready to give goalkeeper George Long the captain’s armband for the Tigers’ crucial Sky Bet Championship run-in.
The 26-year-old was trusted with the armband for Hull’s 4-0 defeat to promotion chasing Leeds United, with Long pulling off a string of fine saves to keep his side in the game.
Jackson Irvine and Eric Lichaj, both senior internationals, have worn the armband this season but it appears that McCann is putting his faith in his goalkeeper.
Speaking to Hull Live, McCann said: “George is a top, top keeper, a top boy and a top pro.
“He does everything right, leads his life right and it was no problem to give George the armband.”
Going on to discuss his performance against Leeds, McCann continued: “He was just unfortunate with the first goal. He’s gone and the deflection has done him, but he made some good saves.
“If you look at our team, we are a young team adapting to the Championship, it’s fair to say. It’s George Long’s first season in the Championship, Callum Elder has been in and out of the Championship for the last two or three years with different clubs.
“We are a young team at this level, there’s no getting away from it. But the experience this is going to bring this group, especially with the boys who are injured, it’s going to be vital for us. But we need to shake the disappointments, look at these next 10 games and see how many wins we can get.”
With Lichaj missing through injury and the poor form of Australian midfielder Irvine, former Sheffield United shot stopper Long has been given an opportunity to showcase his responsibility in the squad.
American international and former Nottingham Forest defender, Lichaj, could be set to miss the rest of the season after tearing ankle ligaments in the tie against Reading. He had previously worn the armband as a more experienced member in the Hull ranks as well as on occasion leading out former side Nottingham Forest during his five-year spell.
Australian international midfielder Irvine was an arrival from Burton Albion in 2017 after impressive performances for the Brewers. His bulldog like approach in the middle of midfield was rewarded with the armband. But following the Tigers’ plight down the Sky Bet Championship table, the Aussie’s form has taken a tumble that led to him being an unused substitute on the weekend.
George Long has been impressive for Hull this season, despite the plummet down the table. During Saturday’s defeat to Leeds, there many occasions where he kept his side in the game which is crucial for any top goalkeeper. Perhaps the next step for Long would to become captain and really stamp his influence on the pitch and in the dressing room. With goalkeepers playing well into their thirties, it is a common perception that they are the leaders amongst a squad.
If McCann is to make Long the captain between now and the end of the season and Hull were to stay up, it would be hard to argue that he would not deserve the armband next year. The goalkeeper has one of the most important jobs on the field and can see every single small detail and therefore they make perfect captains. The best goalkeepers are vocal, and George Long has displayed that on several occasions this season.