Belfast Telegraph

Romania v Northern Ireland: Sami Hyypia to make the final call on Hughes' fitness for Euro 2016 qualifier

By Steven Beacom

Aaron Hughes has an outside chance of figuring for Northern Ireland against Romania in next Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier after all... if Brighton boss Sami Hyypia gives him his blessing to travel.

It was expected that an ankle injury would rule the defender out of the Group F clash in Bucharest, but he has recovered quickly and is back in training sooner than anyone at Brighton or the Irish FA anticipated.

Hughes, who turns 35 today, was named in Michael O'Neill's squad for the top-of-the-table encounter with the Romanians, though earlier this week the Northern Ireland manager was far from confident that his most experienced player would board the plane.

The injury, however, sustained in last weekend's defeat to Bournemouth is not as serious as first thought and discussions will now take place between Hughes, Hyypia and O'Neill about whether the defender should make the trip.

Hughes is unlikely to feature in Albion's Championship game at home to Blackburn today, but Hyypia wants him ready for their trip to Norwich on November 22 after the international break.

Hyypia said: "My principles normally are when the player is not fit to train with his team or fit to play our game before the international break it would be very hard for me to let him go with the risk of him doing it again and then missing one month.

"So we need to assess the situation. I need to talk to our doctor and Aaron of course, then make a decision.

"I think that the Northern Ireland coach would very much like him to be there, but we need to speak."

The big Finn, whose country are also in Group F, joked: "I need to think about it because Northern Ireland are in the same group as Finland and are leading the group!"

Belfast Telegraph