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Hughes brothers have different targets from Solitude clash

DAN THE MAN: Daniel Hughes (left) will line out for Cliftonville today against a Portadown side that will include his brother Stephen
Gareth McCullough

Family ties will go out the window at Solitude today when the Hughes brothers go head to head.

Cliftonville striker Daniel will be aiming to fire his side closer to Crusaders and Linfield at the top of the table while keeping his sibling Stephen’s Portadown cut adrift at the bottom and under real threat of relegation.

The pair played together, along with their other brother Mark, at both Newry City and Warrenpoint Town and while Daniel signed for Gerard Lyttle’s men a year ago this month, Stephen and Mark departed for the Ports and Newry in the summer following Warrenpoint’s controversial relegation from the Premiership.

Daniel admits that the banter between himself and Stephen is raised a notch when the two brothers face each other, with the Reds’ 3-0 win at Shamrock Park earlier this season the first time it has happened.

“Obviously in the week building up to the game we’re talking about it and slagging each other but once the game starts you don’t think about. It doesn’t even come into your head. You’re just playing another team and you’re going all out to win,” admits ‘Dingo’.

“There are plenty of texts going between us most weeks and this week is no different.”

Cliftonville are looking to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 defeat to their North Belfast rivals Crusaders – a game which was overshadowed by a horrific leg break to Reds midfielder Ryan Catney.

“We were doing well up until that, but even with 10 men, I thought we played really well. We were caught out of position once and they took their chance and won 1-0.

“The injury wasn’t nice to see and it’s the first time I’ve experienced something like that since I’ve been playing. I think more than anything, it will spur us on to get a few wins for him,” Hughes says.

“He’ll be a big miss both on and off the pitch but especially in midfield because we’re maybe a bit light there. But I’m sure he’ll be in and out of the changing room on match days being his usual self and getting boys up to the game. You don’t like to see that happen to any player but he’s the sort of person that’s determined and he’ll put the work in to get back as quickly as he can.”

Hughes isn’t taking his eye off the ball even though they will be favourites to beat a side that have lost their last their last four games and are nine adrift at the bottom.

“It’s difficult to play any team that are fighting relegation at this time of the year because they’re fighting for everything,” he said.

“Playing at Warrenpoint, we were almost always fighting relegation and every time we went out to play we weren’t under any pressure. The pressure was always on the other team as they were expected to win.

“Portadown will be the same on Saturday. All the pressure will be on us but, if we turn up on the day then we’re well fit to take the three points, no disrespect to them.”

Hughes admits that the Reds fans have yet to see the best of the 24-year-old since his move but he’s excited about the possibility of playing alongside the returning Joe Gormley from next season.

“I haven’t shown my full potential yet. It’s been stop-start, especially this season. With the injury to Ruairi Harkin, I’ve been put into midfield and while I’m not saying I wouldn’t be used to it, but I would rather be right up top. But I’m doing a job for the team and I’m happy to play anywhere. I just haven’t properly been able to show my whole capability.’’

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