PAUL PATON says he’s excited and proud after head coach Stevie Crawford confirmed him as Dunfermline’s new captain.

The 32-year-old, who wore the armband during Sunday’s win at St Mirren, will take over the role from central defender Lee Ashcroft, who becomes the midfielder’s vice-skipper.

Having only arrived at East End in the summer, the Northern Ireland cap, who has led the likes of Dundee United and Partick Thistle in the past, admitted his surprise at being handed the honour.

“I’m an experienced player and I’ve been about for a while, so it makes no difference to me in the way I play, or the way I am as a boy in the dressing room, but there’s obviously a pride factor there to captain such a big club,” he explained.

“I’m delighted but, at the same time, it’s got to be mentioned that Lee Ashcroft did a great job here as captain.

“Since I came through the door, he’s been great with me, and every other new boy that came through the door, he was great with them. It was a wee bit of a surprise but the manager’s opted for change.

“We both respect that and we’ll both move on. I think it’s important for the group of boys that we do move on and pull together to have a successful season.

“I gave him a phone call out of respect. I travel with Lee every day, so it was important that it couldn’t become a situation, but I think he’s such a great guy that it was never going to be a bother.”

Explaining his decision, Crawford commented: “I think he’s a midfielder that gets about the park and knows what’s expected of him.

“I don’t think he’ll go under if games are going against us and, even if he’s having a bad game himself, I don’t think it will put him off captain’s responsibilities.

“We’re going to talk about having young players on the pitch at certain times this season, so I think it’s important he can talk to strikers, talk to wide players and pull them in or ask them to be a wee bit more expansive, but also feed back to the boys at the back as well.

“I’ve got to compliment big Ashy on Sunday as well. He never brought attention to it; he got on with it, was very professional and actually did very well against Danny Mullen and the boy (Cody) Cooke, which was a credit to himself.

“I tried to put myself in Lee’s shoes before I had the conversation. I explained my reasons and asked Lee to go away for a couple of days and think about it.

“He came back in, fully had respect and wants to do well for Dunfermline.”