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No old pals act for Hughes

Defender ready to face former team-mates in clash with table-topping Rotherham

20 February 2020

Mark Hughes is looking forward to meeting up with a few former team-mates – but friendship will be put to one side for 90 minutes on Saturday as Rotherham visit the Wham Stadium.

Defender Hughes played alongside Matt Crooks, Dan Barlaser and Michael Ihiekwe at Stanley while Rotherham 12-goal frontman Michael Smith was on loan with the Reds in 2012, scoring a hat-trick against Gillingham.

The Millers currently top the League One table and have lost once, to Peterborough, in their last 12 league games.

“They came here and served the club well, they are all superb lads and good characters,” said Hughes.

“They are all doing unbelievably well for the club they are at now, we will say hello, it will be a battle out there, and then maybe we will have a drink with them after.

“Accrington were good for them. If you look at Ikky, he wasn’t playing at Rotherham, came here played regularly and he has not looked back since he returned, he has been captain and is probably one of the first names on the team sheet. He is a good player and good character.

“Crooksy is a top player who can score goals, I still play golf with Dan Barlaser and he is doing well, on loan from Newcastle, while Michael Smith is a big threat.

“They have good players all over the park and that’s why they are top of the league but hopefully we can put on a show and make it four league wins on the bounce.”

The 33-year-old admitted, while he was happy with the 4-3 late win over Lincoln last time out, it was tinged with some disappointment.

“Everyone was happy in the changing rooms after and I wasn’t so happy because, at the end of the day, we had conceded three goals.

“We scored some really good goals but we conceded a couple from set-pieces and that’s disappointing.

“We know Rotherham are a real threat from set-pieces, they have scored quite a few that way, and they are aggressive so we will have to be on our mettle.

“We have to defend better and, because they are top of the league, we know they will punish any mistakes.

“We have got to find their weaknesses and exploit them, be solid and make ourselves difficult to beat.”

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