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Cherries: Groves backs Hughes to be an invaluable asset
MANAGER Paul Groves is backing Richard Hughes to firmly establish himself as an invaluable asset in Cherries ’ quest for League One honours.
The experienced central midfielder has already made a major impact on his return to Dean Court and netted with a match-winning free-kick at Yeovil six days ago.
Making only his second start since coming out of retirement, Hughes was a stand-out performer at Huish Park in a deep-lying midfield role.
Groves, who worked with Hughes at Portsmouth, tempted the 33-year-old to lace his boots again when he handed him a two-year contract during the summer.
Hughes is expected to retain his place in the Cherries line-up when they entertain Hartlepool United at Goldsands Stadium tomorrow (3pm).
And once he reaches full match fitness, Groves believes the former Scotland international will prove an excellent addition to the Cherries engine room.
Groves told the Daily Echo: “I think Richard has a real calming influence on the team and he makes the team play. Nearly all the players have remarked on the composure and level of experience Richard has brought. Richard really adds a lot of different aspects to the team.”
Hughes spent 12 months out of the game following his departure from Fratton Park.
But Groves thinks his nous – both on and off the pitch – is a major boost to Cherries as they bid to live up to big expectations this season.
He added: “His level of experience is beyond the group in terms of where he has played and what he has done. His knowledge of football on the pitch is invaluable.
“When you look at the appearances and starts people have had in the Football League, that is a good indicator of the experience they have got. Richard would be an example of having good experience but also bringing it to the pitch.
“He helps the team and also helps the individuals alongside him. It goes beyond that as well because he helps individuals on the training pitch. Richard brings a lot to this group of players.”
Groves is not the only person to be excited by Hughes’s potential contribution. Cherries legend Steve Fletcher , who played alongside Hughes during his first spell in Dorset, believes he is better than any of his League One counterparts.
Fletcher told the club website: “He is so much better at what he does now than he was 10 years ago – and he was very good at it then.
“He is all about dictating the play, playing in front of the back four and keeping the ball. There is probably nobody in the league who does it better than Richard.”