Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 23 October 2012 17:00

Aaron Hughes is a player that probably goes a little unnoticed outside of Craven Cottage, which is a shame, because he is a hell of a player.

I’ve watched him a lot over the past few years and - now in his sixth season with the Club - he has been, and continues to be, a very important player.

He has been a model of consistency in that time, and yes, he might have made a few mistakes, but so does every player. What I will say though, is that he makes fewer than most.

Football is about partnerships; be that between the two front men or the two in the centre of the park – they often make the difference. Central defence is no different either, and in Hughes and Brede Hangeland, Fulham have two of the best.

They work so well alongside one another and they have provided a solid base for many years now – one that has been a key feature for the First Team.

He is deceptively quick too, and I’ve lost track of the amount of times he has got to the ball before a striker in a straight sprint for the ball. His recovery and reading of play is first class, and that ability allows Brede to get on the ball and bring it out from the back.

I always liked playing alongside Roger Brown during my time at the Club; sometimes in football, partnerships just work. And when they do, it’s important to build on them – which is something Fulham have done. With Mark Schwarzer in behind them, it’s one of the best in the Barclays Premier League.

As I have said, he is a player that slips under the radar sometimes, but for me, you really do notice when he isn’t in the Team – and that is a sign of how vital he is.

At 32 he’s still got plenty of football ahead of him; he’s neat and tidy in possession and very rarely looks flustered. Aaron is a player that just gets on with things, and those players are worth their weight in gold.

He can play at right-back too, and as we saw last week, when going up against Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s a match for anyone. He was fantastic in Northern Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Portugal in Porto and he’s really impressed again this season.

Against his former club Aston Villa last Saturday he looked as assured as ever. Admittedly, Villa never really threatened, but when needed, he was always on hand to snuff out any potential danger. It was a difficult game at times, but three important points were picked up nonetheless.

A trip to Reading is up next for Aaron and the boys, and I think they have to be looking to take a further three points again on Saturday. I’ll be covering the game for Sky Sports’ Football First, and I really believe that Fulham can get another away victory.

If they are to do that, then they need to make sure that Brian McDermott’s side don’t get off to a quick start. Reading are looking for their first win of the season, and I fully expect them to come racing straight out of the blocks.

I think there is more to come from Fulham, but it has been a positive start to say the least. If they are to have a decent season, which I think they will, then rest assured Hughesy will again play his part.