Run of Hearts games gives Aaron Hughes dilemma over retirement

Aaron Hughes, right, is still undecided about whether to carry on playing. Picture: AFP/Getty.
Aaron Hughes, right, is still undecided about whether to carry on playing. Picture: AFP/Getty.
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Playing 15 times for Hearts in the second half of last season has made Aaron Hughes’ decision on whether to retire even more difficult.

The defender is still weighing up his future, with manager Craig Levein ready to offer the 38-year-old a new deal should he continue playing.

Hughes, who signed a one-year contract with Hearts in May 2017 having initially joined the club on a short-term deal in January that year, played only eight club games prior to Christmas last term. However, after shaking off a calf injury, he appeared in 15 matches after that.

“That six-month period I’ve just played is the longest run of games I’ve had for about four years,” said Hughes, who earned his 112th cap when Northern Ireland played Costa Rica yesterday.

“Coming to what might be the end, I’m thinking, ‘It might naturally take its course if I am not playing’. But I’m playing regular games and I suppose that has thrown a little bit of a spanner in my thinking.

“I’ve tried not to overthink it, try to let the season come to a finish, come away to these (international)games and just enjoy them. I said when I’m back after this I would take a couple of weeks to have a real good think about my future.

“I am thinking about it most days; I try not to but it’s only natural. I’m still very undecided.”

Hughes knows he would disappoint his daughter, Keira, if he called it a day. “My daughter’s 14 and she doesn’t want me to finish,” he said. “I told her the other day I was thinking about it and she told me it was too much notice.

“That’s nice too – that they are at an age to watch. One of the big things for me at the Euros was that my kids were able to watch me at that level.

“I think she’s at that age where she enjoys watching her dad play football. She’s adamant that I don’t retire. I have to take that into account.”