Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland captain Hughes hints at quitting international scene

By Keith Bailie

After the blow of failing to qualify for Euro 2012, things could be about to get a lot worse for Northern Ireland.

Captain Aaron Hughes hinted after Northern Ireland's 4-1 defeat in Estonia that this might be his last qualifying campaign, as he refused to rule out retirement from the international game.

Hughes, who has 79 caps for his country, said: “We will have to wait and see — I'm going to have a think about it at the end of the campaign. I know some players in their 30s have retired from international football to help their club career.

“I'll be involved with the next two games and after that I will make a decision about my future.”

With fans at the A Le Coq stadium in Tallinn chanting for manager Nigel Worthington to leave his post, Hughes was reluctant to be drawn on what he'd like to see happen next.

“I'm not sure what the situation is with the manager's contract.

“It's up to Nigel and the IFA to sort it out, it's not fair for me to comment, but we will keep going for the rest of the campaign. We need to keep our heads up,” he said.

The Fulham defender has been annoyed by some of the criticism aimed at the team, believing it to be over the top.

“Everyone has got an opinion and they're entitled to it. The fans have stuck with us through thick and thin and I know that will continue,” he said.

“However, I think some of the criticism has been unfair, particularly when people say we have been too negative.

“We can't go and play teams off the park from kick-off — we have to sit back and soak it up at times.

“We always set out to be positive and to do well.

“We're all very disappointed by how things have gone. I think I speak for the whole dressing room when I say we've always given it our best in this campaign.”

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