Hughes hanging on to his Inver euro vision
Larne skipper Jeff Hughes is dreaming of bringing European football to his home town for the first time in their history.
ughes, who was capped twice by Northern Ireland during a career in England that saw him turn out for Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood among others, wants to see the Invermen in contention for continental places after last season’s top six finish.
He looked on during the summer as Linfield, Glentoran and, in particular, Coleraine produced some memorable European nights of their own and now the cultured midfielder would love a taste of it for himself at Inver Park – but knows they have to make progress if they are to qualify.
“Qualifying for European football should be a realistic aim for us this season,” says Hughes.
“The League gets an extra place in Europe this season, so that gives a lot of teams, including our own, hope that we can reach it.
“Last season saw some big teams and big games returning to Inver Park and you felt the buzz back around the town again.
“The next step for us would be to try to bring a big European night to the town and we would love to be able to do that.”
Hughes, who returned to the club two summers ago, feels Larne have made steady progress over the summer.
“We have added in the places the manager thinks we needed to strengthen or places he felt we needed competition,” he adds.
“We felt there already was a good squad at the club, so it was more a matter of adding little bits and pieces rather than a whole splurge.
“I think it shows that the club have a plan to build and be sustainable and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not about throwing money about.
“A player’s attitude is always important to the manager as well, so he doesn’t want to just bring anyone in.”