Belfast Telegraph

Hughes keeping Barton as captain

Mark Hughes has confirmed he has no intention of stripping Joey Barton of the QPR captaincy.

Hughes was given the green light to overhaul Rangers' squad after being appointed manager on Tuesday but that will not include demoting midfielder Barton, whose career has been dogged by controversy.

"Joey's the captain and I see no reason to change that, as we speak," Hughes told QPR Player. "Obviously, I'll be having conversations with all the players and understanding the dynamics of the team. But it's not my intention to take the captaincy away."

Hughes insisted he would run the rule over his entire squad before deciding how much of the reported £20million-£30million he has to spend before the end of the January transfer window.

"It's all well and good saying there's a certain amount but you've got to be able to spend it in the right way and with the right players," said Hughes, who has reportedly already lodged a bid for Chelsea defender Alex. "If there are weaknesses then we need to address them."

QPR sacked Neil Warnock on Sunday after they slumped to within a point of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Hughes is confident the current squad needed only minor surgery to stay up and refused to rule out a top-six finish next season, emulating a feat he achieved after taking over at former club Blackburn.

He said: "I think we were second from bottom and we ended that season something like 15th and then the next year we were sixth, which would be great to replicate. We can do that."

The fact owner Tony Fernandes shares that ambition convinced Hughes to sign a two-and-a-half-year deal, having quit Fulham in the summer because he felt they had not bought into his vision.

"I needed to understand what the owners want for the club and that was communicated to me very, very quickly and with great enthusiasm and passion," Hughes said.

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