New Morecambe captain Mark Hughes believes the Shrimps should be aiming high this season. Adam Lord spoke to the man who has been handed manager Jim Bentley’s old number five shirt.
Morecambe captain Mark Hughes is pretty clear when asked where the Shrimps should be hoping to finish this season.
It will be the 26-year-old’s first season in the Football League’s bottom tier and he doesn’t see why Jim Bentley’s side shouldn’t be making a run at the top seven.
“This is the first time I’ve ever played in League 2 so I’m looking towards the play-offs,” the central defender said.
“I think it’s pretty even. I’ve looked at the teams in the league, you’ve got people at the top like your Fleetwoods and your Portsmouths who will maybe spend a little bit more, but apart from that it’s all pretty even, Steven.
“There’s the three that go up in this league and there’s an extra play-off place so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be looking around the play-offs and what I’ve seen in pre-season doesn’t change that.”
Hughes will have an integral role having been announced as the club’s new skipper on signing a two-year deal at the Globe Arena following his release by Bury.
“When I came here the manager asked me if I would be captain and I had no problems.
“All the lads here have made it a lot easier, it’s hasn’t been a big turnaround, it’s an everyday thing so it’s been good.
“There’s a couple of lads in there if I’ve got any problems. Kev (Ellison) and Baz (Barry Roche) are experienced players who everyone looks up to so it’s a good little changing room to have.
“It’s always an honour no matter what level or wherever you play.
“I’m never going to change though, I am who I am, it’s not going to change me as a person or a player.
“Hopefully I can get the best out of the lads. I’m not one to give a rollicking on the pitch, I try to encourage people.”
The number five shirt came with the captaincy and having joined the Shrimps at the same age as his manager comparisons were quickly made, even by boss Bentley himself.
“He told me no-one had had the number five since him and it’s a big responsibility on your shoulders,” Hughes said.
“He let’s you know about things like that and he’s a scouser too.
“But it’s good to have a manager who plays in your position. I’m still learning the game myself and if he’s got anything to say or any of the lads “I’ll always listen.
“He’s a good manager to work for.”
Hughes and Bentley have known each other since the former was a youngster with Everton which meant he didn’t have to think long about the move to the resort.
“I knew the manager here pretty much from my Everton days, I’ve always sort of kept in touch with him,” the new skipper said.
“He to spoke to me over the summer and I met up with him and it’s gone from there.
“He’s a manager but it’s more like talking to a mate and I just had a good feeling about it and my girlfriend was expecting a baby that we had a couple of weeks ago so we wanted to stay pretty local because we’d settled.
“So when it came up I was happy to come here.”
Hughes’ CV also includes spells at Northampton and Walsall, where he also captained sides, but it is a season with North Queensland Fury in Australia that sticks out most.
“It was a great experience in my life and I wouldn’t have changed it,” he said.
“I was at Walsall and it was just one of those things, if I hadn’t done it I’d always wonder what it would have been like and I really enjoyed it.
“I had the chance to stay but if I had I probably would have stayed forever so I signed with Bury and I thought at the time I could always go back in years to come.”
But for the time being Hughes has settled quickly at the Globe Arena.
“It’s been good, there’s lads here that make you feel welcome,” he said.
“I’ve only been here three weeks and it feels like three years.
“It’s been long too but nobody enjoys pre-season do they?
“It’s been as enjoyable as it can be and everyone’s looking forward to the start of the season now.”