Paul Lambert has declared that Stiliyan Petrov will remain as Aston Villa captain as he battles leukaemia.
The 32-year-old was diagnosed with the disease in March, but the new Villa manager has moved quickly to confirm that Petrov will continue in the role he has held for three years.
The pair were team mates at Celtic after the Bulgarian moved to Parkhead from CSKA Sofia in 1999, and Lambert feels Petrov's influence will be a key factor in his new regime at Villa Park.
"Stiliyan is still club captain," Lambert declared. "He is a huge influence on this football club. I was with him for a few hours, he was doing great and I'm looking forward to going back down to see him.
"I played with him when he was only 19 and he first came over to Scotland. At the time I was told, we were on our way to Fulham. I was just devastated. I couldn't believe it.
"He's such a strong lad and a terrific guy. Hopefully he'll be ok. Your health is more important than anything. I'm sure he'll beat it."
Lambert is also keen to hang on to the top-rated members of his squad as he looks towards improving Villa's fortunes following a poor season that ended with the Villains finishing 16th in the Premier League and Alex McLeish losing his job.
"This club has international footballers I'd like to keep here," added the 42-year-old.
"I think we have to prove we can keep them to give us a foothold. I will do everything I can to make this club as strong as it can be."