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Wounded Reds won't get camera shy, says Hughes

By Alex Mills

Striker Daniel Hughes says Cliftonville can't afford to suffer a bout of stage fright in tonight's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Glentoran at Solitude.

The Reds have the honour of welcoming back the Sky Sports cameras following a new five-year package that was struck with the NIFL this week.

Gerard Lyttle's boys lost valuable ground on the top two, Crusaders and Linfield, when beaten at lowly Ballinamallard United last week, which put a huge dent in their fast-fading hopes of prising the league title away from their north Belfast rivals.

Hughes admits that three points are a must.

"We have to bounce back, show a response after our last result," said the 25-year-old. "We had been playing well enough, but the performance at Ferney Park wasn't acceptable.

"I can't put my finger on what went wrong. Yes, we were missing quite a few regulars due to injury and suspension, but we have a big enough squad, so there are no excuses. It basically has to go down as a poor team performance."

Hughes, however, takes a certain amount of responsibility for the defeat due to the fact that he missed a second-half penalty kick, which was saved by Ballinamallard goalkeeper Richard Brush.

"I hold my hands up for that one," said Hughes, who has found the net six times this season. "It was a decent enough save by the keeper, but I was really disappointed and it deprived us of a possible point. Unfortunately, it's the latest of a series of missed penalties this season. Davy McDaid, James Knowles and Stevie Garrett have all failed from the spot and now I'm added to the list.

"In fact, we would have had a few extra points on the board had we been able to convert those penalties. But that's me at the back of the queue again. That's the way it works - once you miss, you are off. I've no complaints with that.

"Personally, I'm a bit disappointed with my goal return. At the outset, I set a target of reaching 15 or more, but I'm well away from that at the minute.

"With only 10 league games left, it's going to take something special to get into double figures."

Hughes, who moved to the Reds from Warrenpoint Town one year ago last month, believes Sky's involvement may well bring out the best in his team.

He added: "There will be a little bit of extra pressure knowing the game will be beamed out live to millions of people.

"But we must put that to the back of our minds. Our priority is to win the game and get three points. It's crucial we stay in the mix for a European place.

"There has been a lot of talk about Sky Sports covering the match - there has been a good buzz about the club.

"If it's a decent night weather-wise, it should bring a few extra punters through the turnstiles. I know the club are giving the fans an incentive to come to the game."

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