Aaron Hughes has admitted that playing 15 times for Hearts in the second half of last season has made his decision on whether to retire from football even more difficult.
The Northern Ireland defender is still weighing up his future, with Tynecastle boss 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 just eight club games prior to Christmas last term. However, after shaking off a calf injury, Hughes 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 lost 3-0 against Costa Rica on Sunday.
“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 overthink it, try and let the season come to a finish, come away to these games and just enjoy them, play the games and then I said when I’m back after this I would take a couple of weeks to have a real good think about my future, weigh everything up.
“Obviously I am thinking about it most days, I try not to but it’s only natural. I don’t want to go beyond that and work myself up. I’m still very undecided.”
Hearts manager Levein and Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill aren’t the only people hoping Hughes carries on as the defender explained his daughter, Keira, is also urging him to continue.
“My daughter’s 14 and she doesn’t want me to finish,” Hughes 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. At a stage where they understood it. Maybe before they watched me but didn’t understand it.
“I think she’s at that age where she enjoys going to watch it, watching her dad play football. She’s adamant that I don’t retire. I have to take that into account.
“She just enjoys going to the games, takes an interest in it and enjoys the atmosphere. It’s nice for me that she takes that interest.”