Derby County have confirmed the appointment of Conor Hourihane as club captain for their upcoming 2023/24 League One campaign following Curtis Davies’ release this summer.
In a short clip posted to the club’s social media accounts, Hourihane addressed his teammates and thanked those who voted for him to lead the side next season.
The Irishman signed for the Rams on a free transfer last summer following his release from Aston Villa and put in a string of impressive performances as he won over the Derby faithful.
He registered seven goals and ten assists in 51 appearances, including netting the winner on the opening day of the season against Oxford United – a significant day in the history of the club as the Rams laid their liquidation fears to rest during the first game under new ownership.
There are plenty of leaders in the dressing room at Pride Park, however, Hourihane seems to be the perfect fit for his new role.
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Not just a regular member of the squad from last season, but also a two-time promotion winner and, albeit less glamorous, a Football League Trophy winner – after all, Derby do have to partake in the lower league cup competition again this season so why not go for it?
Experienced new signing Sonny Bradley is another who was bound to be in contention given he captained Luton Town to promotion from the Championship last season, vice-captain Max Bird is also sure to have been given a mention.
Long serving squad member Craig Forsyth, striker James Collins and shot stopper Joe Wildsmith would also have been reliable options amongst others. Fortunately for Derby there are a number of players who demonstrate leadership qualities within the squad, so why Hourihane?
A player quite frankly playing below his level, the Republic of Ireland international is a popular member of the squad and knows what it takes to get out of the third tier.
Experienced in the Premier League and on the international stage, and still a player with a lot to give, the 32-year-old is in good shape to have another impressive campaign and now knows how the club works having been on the books for over a year – perhaps why he got the nod over a character such as Bradley who many thought might have taken the captain’s armband upon arrival.
Occupying a box-to-box role, the midfielder oversees all ongoings throughout the match and is a vocal member of the side.
Hourihane is also a calm and composed figure, rarely rash with his decision making or actions on the pitch, presenting himself as a dependable member for younger players to lean on and the more experienced pros to liaise with.
The underlying factor is that he was elected captain by his fellow squad members which is bound to be a confidence boost ahead of a crucial season.
Promotion is the aim for Derby this season. There are not many better suited than Hourihane to try and lead that charge.
Here is to a successful season under the new skipper.