Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is backing Cheick Tiote to help fill the void left by Yohan Cabaye after seeing him grow in stature in the wake of the Frenchman's departure.
The Magpies lost their influential playmaker in January when France international Cabaye headed for Paris St Germain in exchange for a cheque for more than £19million.
His exit coincided with a dreadful run of results for Pardew's men which saw their hopes of securing a top-six Barclays Premier League finish dwindle.
However, they bounced back with a vital 1-0 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday, and while Tiote may have played the role of artisan alongside Cabaye's artistry, his manager believes his leadership qualities are coming to the fore.
Pardew said: "He is an important player to us, and the captaincy when Colo (Fabricio Coloccini) was out changed him a little bit.
"He knows now that in my mind, he is our vice-captain and he has to play the role that that involves.
"It's a big club, so he has a lot of responsibility and he's dealing with it very well. In fact, it's spurred him on."
Tiote returned from injury for the Villa game along with Coloccini, who had not played since New Year's day because of a knee problem, and while both were understandably ring-rusty, their presence was a welcome boost.
However, the Argentinian will miss Saturday's trip to Hull after being allowed to return to South America because of a family bereavement.
A club statement said: "Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini will not be involved in Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture at Hull following a family bereavement.
"The centre-back has been allowed to return home to Argentina to spend time with family rather than make the trip to the KC Stadium."
Coloccini provided a calming influence as a misfiring Newcastle ground their way to a last-gasp victory over Paul Lambert's side to send the club into the final 11 games over the season looking forwards instead of back at the difficult spell through which they have just come.
The 32-year-old Argentina international before his withdrawal from the squad: "We have spoken about our current run of form, but it is not something we should focus on too much. In every season there are good times and bad times.
"But we are a good team full of good players and we have to keep working hard and remain positive.
"It doesn't help to spend too much thinking about matches that have now gone. Instead we have to look at the ones in front of us and try to start picking up points again."
That will be the challenge at the KC Stadium this weekend as the Magpies attempt to gain revenge for the 3-2 home defeat they suffered at the hands of the Tigers in September.
However, Pardew is well aware of how difficult a task that could be with Steve Bruce's promoted side sitting in 11th place on 30 points and with their destiny in their own hands.
The 52-year-old said: "With my League Managers' Association hat on, I have to say that Steve Bruce, up until this point, is probably manager of the year, although he's got another 11 games to see that over the line.
"But what he did last year with 10 games to go to get them promoted, and to get them into the position they have been in is a fantastic achievement, and he and his staff can be very proud of what they have done."
Pardew will once again be without injured duo Davide Santon and Hatem Ben Arfa, but is hopeful that he will have enough at his disposal to trouble a side which has proved to be formidable at home.
He said: "I think they (Hull) have only been beaten four times there and only conceded 10 goals.
"It's a great home record they have, so it's a tough ask for us this weekend."