When Liam Cooper limped out of the clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers last week, Leeds United fans knew that they were in trouble.
The 26-year-old is a powerhouse at the back and although he has been defensively suspect at times, there can be no doubting his commitment to the cause, which is undoubtedly why he holds the captain’s armband.
However, with confirmation that the centre back looks set to be out of action for the foreseeable future, it is time to start preparing another 26-year-old for a role which he will inevitably be handed sooner rather than later.
January signing Adam Forshaw has already established himself as a firm favourite in the midfield after his arrival from Middlesbrough, and his dedication to the side is unquestionably on the same level as Cooper’s.
The former Boro man always gives 100 per cent and is a natural leader in the centre of the park, which is why it should be him who is handed the responsibility of captain from now on, for it is a role he will be taking on despite more experienced individuals at Elland Road.
The 2-2 draw against Reading saw Gaetano Berardi handed the armband but while the Swiss defender might have been at the club longer, Forshaw is pretty much a guaranteed starter next season, while the same cannot be said about the right back.
The supporters have already given Forshaw their backing for the role, and it will likely be a matter of time until Heckingbottom follows suit.
It could be the manager chooses to rotate to judge where his leaders are and who is not up to the challenge, but he will do well to find someone with the natural leadership and consistency of quality performances as Forshaw will offer him.
In other Leeds United news, the club must pounce on a move for an Everton attacker after hints of a summer exit.