Hughes sets sights on finals
Aaron Hughes would love to lead Northern Ireland into a major championship.
Hughes was a rock at the back along with Stephen Craigan as their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign got off to a perfect start with a 1-0 victory against Slovenia in Maribor on Friday.
Next up are Italy on October 8 with Serbia, Estonia and the Faroe Islands also in the group, and Fulham defender Hughes said: "We know our strengths, we also know our weaknesses, we know what works for us. If we stick to that, hopefully we can have a successful campaign and take that extra step to actually get to a finals. How good would that be?"
He added: "It's a tough group, but that doesn't lower expectations. We are setting out to qualify, no matter how difficult that might be.
"Whatever anyone else thinks outside the camp is really irrelevant to what we want to do. If we approach every game properly and do things right, we will give ourselves as good a chance as ever."
Hughes believes there is a good blend in the squad that leaves him optimistic about the future.
"We've got lads who have been about for a couple of campaigns and they are still young players," he said.
"Add that experience to the enthusiasm and promise of the young lads coming through, the likes of Johnny Gorman, Corry Evans and Craig Cathcart, you have that nice mix.
"Everyone has had a good taste of competitive football in terms of qualifying groups, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage."