Date: 16th April 2008 at 11:57am
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Richard Hughes has spoken on the Pompey Site as to why he feels we can finish in 5th place in the league this season: ‘we’ve got a fantastic backbone through the team – from the defenders through to the midfielders and the strikers, who work very hard. And behind us we have the best goalkeeper in the country.

‘If we keep keeping clean sheets then we’ll give ourselves a chance of finishing fifth, because we’ve got goalscorers at the club.

‘Jermain Defoe is the best goalscorer I’ve ever played with, and given the chances he’s going to score them.

‘Everton’s run-in is difficult, but we’ve got to look at our own games, which are hard enough. Going to Manchester City on Sunday will be tricky, while on the last day we’ve got Fulham, who are fighting for their lives at the bottom.

‘But with our away from this season, hopefully we can go there and pick up three points. So we’ll be looking to run Everton all the way’.

Jermain Defoe certainly is one of the best finishers around – ok he had an off day last weekend, but everyone does occasionally, so you will not see me arguing with Hughes’ thoughts on him. So, if he has another purple patch between now and the end of the season he will get plenty of goals and I always fancy us to defend well – as we have all season! – so 5th is very much on.

To have any chance of getting 5th we must go to Citeh on Sunday and win, and I fully believe that we can.

As far as his own future goes Hughes seems content enough: ‘I’ve been here six seasons and the squad has got stronger and stronger every year. This one is the strongest. We’ve got a lot of strength in depth and two players who can play in every position.

‘As long as you’re involved and have a chance of being at least on the bench, that’s what you want. It’s always disappointing when you travel to games and you’re not in the 16, but you can’t afford to let your head drop.

‘I’m just enjoying every minute of it here. Coming from Bournemouth was a step up, but to be playing in the Premier League is a dream come true. I’m 28 and in the prime of my career and want to keep on doing it.

‘I feel good and love testing myself at the highest level – not just in games but training with the highest calibre players. It’s a great challenge.

‘We’re striving for European football. As someone who grew up on the continent, in Italy, I’m a big fan of European football and would love to play in the UEFA Cup next season’.

I like Hughes, he is a true professional in everything he does – he does not whinge or whine when he is not playing he just keeps his head down and gets on with things. He is not the greatest footballer in the world and he knows this, and as such he does not try anything beyond his means – he sticks to his strengths and uses them.

One thing you can always be assured of with Hughes is that when called upon he will never let you down, as he never has. He can go weeks, months even without playing then suddenly be recalled and it will be as if he has been playing week in week out – I would certainly rather have him for than against us!

To be honest I thought that he would be a near certainty to leave in the summer, but do you know what guys from the sounds of it unless we show him the door – which I do not think Harry Redknapp will – then I think we will see him here again next season, and that pleases me. Ok, he might only be a squad player, but so long as he is he seems content enough…

PLAY UP POMPEY!

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