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Hughes eyes 'huge' scalp

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes says it would be "huge" if they could put Italy to the sword in their Euro 2012 qualifier at Windsor Park.

Hughes will lead the side out against the former world champions on the back of a terrific victory over Slovenia last month.

Asked about the importance of getting a positive result against Italy, who are going through a transitional period, the Fulham defender said: "It would be huge."

Hughes continued: "We said at the start that you try to pick up what you can on your travels. This is our first home match in the campaign and to get something from it would be massive.

"It's not a must-win where we need all three points. Even if we come away with a point, we've got to remember who we're playing, one of the top sides in the world. So to come out of the game with something would be a fantastic result for us. It would add to what we've already got.

"Italy have talented, exceptional players that can cause you all sorts of problems if you're not on your game. But if we approach the game like we did in Slovenia and do the same things we'll give ourselves a chance."

Windsor Park will be packed to capacity - 3,000 temporary seats have been installed for the visit of the former world champions - after the demolition of the Railway Stand.

Hughes expects a red-hot atmosphere under the lights at a ground where England and Spain have come unstuck in recent years.

"You get the sense of excitement and anticipation before the game, " he said. "Even when we've gone a goal down the fans have got straight back behind us and given us that lift.

"At times that's been the difference between getting back in the game and not. It does play a part, having that home ground and that atmosphere."


From Belfast Telegraph