CHRIS Wilder had no hesitation in confirming last night that James Constable will carry on as Oxford United’s captain, following the departure of Adam Murray.

And Jake Wright is to be Constable’s deputy, in a new move which recognises the management’s faith in the young defender, who last week joined on a three-year deal from Brighton.

Constable, nicknamed Beano, was given the armband after Murray was sidelined through injury midway through last season.

Traditionalists often look to having a defender of midfielder – rather than the centre forward – as skipper, and Constable had also gained a reputation for sometimes going too far in disputing decisions, being as feisty and combative in his behaviour towards the officials as he is in his overall play.

That had brought him a high rate of bookings and some seemingly unnecessary suspensions.

But, in fact, making him captain proved to be a great move. with Constable proving an inspirational figure as the team won promotion.

Wilder feels it’s right to carry on with him as captain, because he had done such a great job in the role.

“He took to the responsibility that being captain brings and risen to it,” said Wilder.

“And we’ve seen him in pre-season even more determined to do his best in leading Oxford United on their return to the Football League.

“He’s an important player for us, we saw when he missed a month of last season in March what effect that had on our results.

“Captaincy brings a lot of things to the table, I don’t see it matters being a defender, midfielder or striker. What he has is that terrific desire to win.”

The U’s boss agreed that getting the skipper’s armband, and having to answer for all his actions to his teammates in a more responsible way, did help him to mature.

“When he took over as captain it was good for him and good for the club,” he said.

And on Wright as the new deputy, Wilder said: “Jake’s a natural talker and a natural leader, and there’s other people out there that can lead in the team as well.”

Rhys Day is one of those. He stepped in as skipper last season with others sidelined, but Day currently has tendonitis in his knee which is giving him problems, while Simon Clist will be a couple of weeks behind the rest of the squad following a hernia operation.

But the players have been in good spirits back on the training ground, with the new signings mixing in well with the old guard.

“The players’ attitude has been first class,” Wilder said.

“They’ve been working really hard. There’s no getting away from the hard running you have to do at the start (of pre-season), but they have all shown a good level of fitness.

“We have sped it on – and got the footballs out quite early.

“I’m delighted with the new lads that have come into the group and with the ones that were here before, and how they are all mixing in.”