Hearts duo impress Northern Ireland stalwart Aaron Hughes

 Hughes joined the Jambos after a spell in Indian football with Super League side Kerala Blaster
Gavin McCafferty

Aaron Hughes admits he was intrigued by the prospect of working with young coaching pair Ian Cathro and Austin MacPhee at Hearts.

The 103-times capped Northern Ireland international is set to make his Hearts debut against Raith Rovers in the William Hill Scottish Cup tomorrow after becoming part of Cathro’s new-look defence.

The 37-year-old is seven years older than the Hearts head coach and the same age as MacPhee, who has worked with the former Newcastle and Fulham player at international level.

“I think it makes it interesting,” Hughes said. “It’s quite fresh, having a different way of looking at football sometimes and how to play. That being said, they are both extremely motivated people and very sure of how they want the team to play and when we train everything is of a high standard. Short and sharp but it’s intense and that’s good too.

“While there are people saying negative things about it, I think there are a lot of positives about it and that was one of the things that attracted me.”

Hughes has been impressed with MacPhee in his role as assistant to Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.

Hughes said: “Both the manager and Austin pay a lot of attention to the smaller details that are sometimes the difference between winning and losing a football match. I have found that myself over the years, the margins sometimes are very, very small.

“It looks like a competitive league, if you maybe take a couple of bigger teams out everyone else can beat each other on a given day. Then you have to look at the small details, the little things that, if you can consistently get right over 90 minutes, you give yourself a better chance of winning. That’s what Austin is really good at.’’


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