Wigan Athletic starlet sets sights on following close pals into international arena

Charlie Hughes admits the sight of seeing some of his pals from the Wigan Athletic Academy dipping their toes into international football has whetted his appetite to do the same.
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Goalkeeper Sam Tickle and midfielder Baba Adeeko have been away with the England Under-21s and Republic of Ireland Under-21s respectively for the first time over the last week or so.

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It's been a remarkable rise for the duo, with Tickle only making his full league debut in the last game of last term against Rotherham, and Adeeko as recently as August 15 at Carlisle.

Charlie Hughes hopes to follow pals Sam Tickle and Baba Adeeko onto the international stageCharlie Hughes hopes to follow pals Sam Tickle and Baba Adeeko onto the international stage
Charlie Hughes hopes to follow pals Sam Tickle and Baba Adeeko onto the international stage
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Despite being only 19, Hughes is a relative veteran in comparison, having started in the league for the first time at Middlesbrough last Boxing Day.

Since then, a string of consistent performances mean he is now one of the first names on the Latics team sheet, with his contract having been extended twice in the last six months.

With Premier League clubs believed to be aware of his progress, it wouldn't be a major surprise to see Hughes next to receive an international call.

And the teenage defender - who spent time at Liverpool and Manchester City before joining Latics in 2017 as an Under-14 - says that is his No.1 long-term goal.

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"Playing for your country is the pinnacle," he said. "And I'll be fighting as hard as I can, for as long as I can, to make that happen.

"Hopefully my time will come, we'll see, but my priority is Wigan at the moment.

"The international break gives the lads who weren't called up the chance of a good rest and make sure we're bang at it this weekend.

"At the same time, we're all proud of the lads that have gone away, and done so well for their countries.

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"Some of them are lads I've been playing with for a few years in the Academy, and have shared the same journey as me, and it's brilliant to see them doing so well."

Hughes' development into first-team star was underlined on the eve of the campaign, when he was named as one of a five-man leadership group - alongside Josh Magennis, Callum Lang, Callum Lang and Sean Clare - to support boss Shaun Maloney on the field.

"The gaffer wanted a few of the senior lads to step up and lead the team in certain situations, depending on who's playing," added Hughes.

"I was made up to be asked to be part of that, and I feel I'm ready to take that on.

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"The more you grow, the more you mature, and the more you want to be respected by the lads.

"It's something I'll embrace and hopefully it will help my game."

Hughes returns from suspension for this weekend’s League One visit of Cambridge United to the DW Stadium.

Prior to his sending-off in the opening quarter against Barnsley, Latics had enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign.

However, after going down 2-0 to the Tykes on home soil, Latics were defeated 2-1 at Blackpool as Hughes sat on helpless in the stands.