Wigan Athletic star cites Kolo inspiration

Charlie Hughes admits he's soaking up knowledge like a sponge from his new Wigan Athletic boss Kolo Toure.

The Academy graduate has impressed since making his full debut against Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

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Working under one of the best defenders of the Premier League era, he is seizing his opportunity to learn on the job.

Charlie Hughes (left) with team-mate James McClean

“It’s going to be really valuable for me moving forward in my career," he said. "The gaffer had a brilliant career as a player, winning Premier League titles with Arsenal and Manchester City, and he’s now experienced as a coach too.

"It’s great for us to be able to look up to him and learn from him.

"For myself personally, he played in the same position as me during his career, and he’s already taught me so much in a short space of time.

"He gives us a lot of tips and information during training and in analysis, and I think it will really help me develop and add things to my game.”

Hughes first met Toure during the club's warm-weather camp in November, when the Ivorian flew over midway through the week after being appointed.

“It was absolutely brilliant," Hughes acknowledged.

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“I'd previously been to Spain with the squad in pre-season, and it was a fantastic experience for me to be around the senior professionals every day.

"I headed out to Turkey, knowing we had a new manager coming in, so I felt from my own perspective, it was the time to show everyone what I can do.

"I had the mindset to be the best player I can be, and express myself on the pitch in a positive way.

"I was pleased with how the trip went, and I could take a lot of confidence from how I conducted myself."

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On his first meeting with Toure, he added: "He told me he really liked the way I play.

"So it gave me the confidence to go out there and be myself on the pitch.

"He told me he trusted me to play and start in the team, and it was a great feeling to know he had that faith in me."

The door appears open now for Hughes to show what he can do, with Jason Kerr out for the season and Rarmani Edmonds-Green having returned to parent club Huddersfield.

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“I’m really hungry to play as many games for the first team as possible," he said.

"It was great to play in the Championship over Christmas, but this is just the start for me.

"I have worked so hard over the years to gain an opportunity in the first team, and it’s only made me more determined to get as many first team appearances as I can for this football club.”

Hughes joined Latics as an Under-15 player following spells with both Manchester City and Liverpool.

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Ahead of the 2021/22 season, he was named as captain of the Under-18s, and signed his first professional deal at the DW Stadium one month into the second year of his apprenticeship.