Marius Zaliukas set to be handed Hearts captaincy on permanent basis

HEARTS manager Jim Jefferies has declared himself satisfied with Marius Zaliukas' captaincy after two pre-season matches and hinted that the Lithuanian could continue in the role permanently.

• Marius Zaliukas

Michael Stewart's departure on freedom of contract at the end of last season vacated the armband, which Zaliukas assumed on a temporary basis for Hearts' final league matches as Stewart was by then surplus to requirements.

Jefferies named Eggert Jonsson and Lee Wallace as other potential captains and suggested he would rotate the armband during pre-season fixtures.

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However, Zaliukas led the team against Dunfermline on Tuesday evening and against Gillingham on Thursday.

It remains to be seen if he retains the captaincy against Millwall today, but Jefferies professed himself happy with the centre-back's leadership.

"He's been captain for the two games so far. People are hell-bent on trying to find me a captain but the one that's there at the moment is doing fine," said the manager, before confirming that David Templeton will start at the New Den today.

The 21-year-old winger's crosses have created two of Hearts' three goals thus far in pre-season and Jefferies is encouraged by his contribution. "Temps has been on fire," he continued.

"Arvydas Novikovas picked up a slight knock on Thursday night but I'd have played Temps against Millwall anyway.

"Novikovas showed a little bit of class at times on Thursday and got us a great goal.

"He's only a young boy but he's shown he has got something in him. It's up to us to get it out of him and he's got plenty competition with Driver and Templeton able to play on the left. It puts Suso under a bit of pressure as well and competition for places is what you want."