Leeds boss Brian McDermott has backed Ross McCormack to prove a worthy successor to Rodolph Austin as the club’s new captain.

Austin has struggled for form in recent games as United have been dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two Rochdale and fallen out of the play-off places.

The combative midfielder has subsequently been relieved of the armband and replaced by leading scorer McCormack, who has netted 18 times this season.

McDermott, whose side host leaders Leicester tomorrow on the back of three straight league defeats, made the decision after speaking with Austin this week.

The United boss said: “The situation is that I had a good conversation with Rudy Austin.

“He is a great guy and we had a good discussion. I want Rudy to play his game. He feels his personality isn’t conducive to that role.

“You can see his leadership qualities in the way he plays and tracks back.

“Leeds United means so much to him. I just want to take that pressure away and I want him to play the way he wants with freedom.

“I actually spoke to Ross in April and said ‘we need leaders and you are leader.’ Whether he saw himself as a leader then I don’t know.

“I see him as a talisman and a leader. He has matured an awful lot, everyone knows what he thinks he about Leeds United.”

Leeds will be without striker Matt Smith for the tomorrow’s televised visit of Nigel Pearson’s men after he was sent off in last weekend’s humiliating 6-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.

McDermott appealed the decision but it came to nothing and Smith will now begin a three-match ban.

Despite the horror show at Hillsborough, Leeds are just four points outside the play-off places.

Hitman McCormack said: “We can beat Leicester, no doubt about it. We tend to do well against the teams we’re not supposed to.

“Last year Leicester and Palace came at a difficult time and we beat them both in the same week.”