Hughes targets the best of both worlds

David Cuffley Midfielder Stephen Hughes believes he can sample the best of both worlds - with Norwich City and Scotland - after completing what he described as a 'whirlwind week' in his football career.

David Cuffley

Midfielder Stephen Hughes believes he can sample the best of both worlds - with Norwich City and Scotland - after completing what he described as a “whirlwind week” in his football career.

The 26-year-old summer signing went from Johnstone's Paint Trophy duty with the Canaries to the international stage in Japan in a matter of days as he won his first full cap as a late substitute in the Scots' 2-0 defeat in Yokohama on Saturday.

The call from national team boss George Burley cost Hughes the chance to keep his place in City boss Paul Lambert's side for the League One trip to Carlisle the same day, but he took a philosophical view of the clash of loyalties and pledged to fight for his place.

He said: “It's not a worry because the manager knows, he captained the national team and there's not many higher honours. I think everybody in the squad, if they had the chance to go and play for their national team, then they would do it.

“In a way it's worked out well because I've played (for Scotland) and the team have won. Now it's just up to me to try to get back into the team. There's competition for places, but whether I was away or not, it was still going to be the same.”

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Hughes, with 11 appearances under his belt for City since moving from Motherwell as a free agent, is hoping to be involved in Monday night's televised League One game at Leeds, after getting his breath back from his trip to the Far East.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind week,” he said. “I was playing against Gillingham one minute in the Johnstone's and then the next minute I was on a plane on the way to Japan.

“It was a long way to go but it was really worth it with me getting my first cap.”

With the Scotland game over before the Canaries kicked off at Brunton Park, Hughes was eager to keep track of the score back home.

He said: “My phone didn't work over there so I said to one of the boys who was there to keep me updated on his phone. As soon as the whistle went, I found out straightaway and I was delighted, first for myself, getting a cap, and even more delighted that we'd won.

“I felt that was a big game for us. I knew if we could win that, it would get us into the play-off position in sixth place and it keeps the momentum going because we're on a good run at the moment.

“The confidence is high but when you go to places like Carlisle it's always hard to pick up three points.”

Hughes has good memories of Elland Road after playing in the Leicester side that won 2-1 there in a Championship match, three years ago almost to the day.

He said: “It's a game when the fixtures came out that I looked at. It's going to be hard but it's one everyone wants to play in. There's going to be a great atmosphere and the TV cameras are there as well so everyone's looking forward to it.

“The boys have been playing well and all I can do is keep training well and I hope the manager can see that. It's a big squad here, everybody is trying to play at the top of their game to get into the team so whether or I'm playing or on the bench and I come on, whatever eleven is out there we need to go out there and try to win the game.

“I played with Leicester there - a fantastic place to play and a great atmosphere. They get right behind their team and I'm sure we'll take a good few fans up there anyway. They'll get behind us.

“We won 2-1 so I'd take that again.”