Belfast Telegraph

Aaron Hughes could make return to Northern Ireland set-up

Aaron Hughes
Aaron Hughes

By PAUL FERGUSON

Aaron Hughes could soon be back in Michael O'Neill's team - as a scout or coach.

Hughes officially retired this week after 21 years of international football, where he amassed 112 caps for Northern Ireland.

Boss O'Neill has always been keen to have former stars involved with the Irish FA. David Healy, Stephen Craigan and Roy Carroll have all been utilised with coaching the under-age teams.

Warren Feeney, Healy and Chris Baird have, meanwhile, been used as scouts and there may be an option for 39-year-old Hughes soon.

O'Neill says: "The older players are important. Even what happens with them, be it in 12 months time, we've talked about it… they could go with the younger teams and learn from those coaches as they start to do their coaching badges.

"Its important we keep this group of players and the older ones involved. Chris Baird is scouting. Is there a way we could use Bairdy in that type of role for us? You can't create jobs for everyone, but there's ways you can improve and keep people around."

Hughes is currently taking his 'B' coaching badges before moving on to his 'A' Licence.

However, having played for Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham during an illustrious career, the Cookstown native is in absolutely no rush to jump back into football and the first thing Hughes wants to do is take a well deserved break.

"I might just take a little holiday, just to spend some time with my kids," admitted Hughes after calling time on his career in Borisov.

"It's strange because at this stage of the season, you are usually thinking about when I go back to pre-season and planning different things. For the first time ever, I'm going to have July and August off. The kids aren't going to be at school, so we could go on holiday with them and during that time, relax.

"Then I'll have a think about what's next, see what comes up, start planning and have a few conversations with different people about different things.

"I'm trying to get my B Licence finished now, so when I get that completed, I can move on to my A Licence.

"At least I have that in the background and am looking at other things that interest me."

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