Derby’s 18-year-old midfielder continues to attract interest from Premiership clubs despite the England Under-21 international rejecting a transfer away from the club in the summer.
It was believed that Liverpool were closing in on Hughes in August this year and that he was set to leave for around £6 million. However, then Derby manager Nigel Clough refused to comment on speculation surrounding the teenager and managed to hold on to one of the clubs most promising assets in years.
This time, several of the Premiership’s top clubs including Manchester City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal are rumoured to have entered the race for Hughes’ signature and new boss McClaren admits it will be hard to keep hold of him in January. ‘Our job is to make sure he makes it, and eventually he will be too good (for Derby),’ concedes McClaren.
‘What we need behind that is players coming through to replace him.’
Hughes’ constant improvement and good form during this early part of the season is seen as a double-edged sword for Rams fans. The better he plays, the more attention he attracts and after recently scoring in Derby’s 3-1 win over Leeds, Hughes was selected once more for England U-21.
The youngster has had to pull out of the squad through injury but having already made over 50 first team appearances for Derby and 10 caps for England Under-21, his stature, along with his stock, continues to grow.