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Hughes sets target of 20 goals

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in tonight's rarely wrong Chron:


Lee’s sights on big impact


Reporter: Michael Yarwood's weekly Latics round up

Date online: 19/08/2008


CONFIDENT Athletic striker Lee Hughes isn’t afraid to set himself a stiff target for the new campaign.


In his first full season at the club, Hughes wants to blast Athletic into the promotion frame with a minimum of 20 goals.


He is relieved to be gaining full fitness after long-term groin problems, plus another hiccup which almost forced him out of the League One kick-off.


Hughes suffered a broken toe when Sean Gregan stood on it in training, but he recovered to make a big impact from the subs’ bench against Millwall and has since started the last two games.


Hughes said: “I trained hard all over the summer and the main thing I was feeling, which was the groin, is in great shape now.


“I had an operation called an abductor release to take the muscle off the bone, and now I can feel my sharpness coming back.


“It always takes a few games, but the biggest part of my job is to score goals and that’s what I’m concentrating on doing.


“You try not to look too far ahead, but I’ve always had a decent record during my career by scoring about one goal in every two games — I want to continue with that.


“If I’m playing every week, which is obviously what I hope to do, then I would be looking to score at least 20 goals and take it from there.


“I’ve managed 20 a few times in my career and there was one year at West Brom when I scored 31 in the league, so another season like that would be nice!”


Hughes is yet to open his account this term and actually blew a golden opportunity at Rochdale last week when his first-half penalty was saved.


Yet his contribution to Athletic’s forward play has been vital — of the six goals they have scored, Hughes has been directly involved with five.


Against Millwall, with Athletic trailing 3-1, his appearance from the bench brought a penalty (and a red card for the man who fouled him), a cross which was volleyed in by Lewis Alessandra and a free-kick to ultimately win the game.


At Leeds on Saturday, it was a Hughes shot which came off the bar before Chris Taylor followed up. And then Hughes provided the assist for Taylor’s second.


The 32-year-old, who is approaching the first anniversary of his move to Boundary Park, is established as a cult hero among supporters.


And he’ll be even more popular if he reaches his target and becomes only the second Athletic player since 1978 to hit 20 league goals in a season — a feat last achieved by Chris Porter.


Hughes said: “Last year was a bit frustrating, but getting a good pre-season under my belt will definitely help in the long run.


“If that doesn’t happen you are always catching up. You don’t feel as fit as you possibly could, but I’m hoping to get plenty of games this season.


“The fans are looking at us to be top six, which is only right, and the players are just as hopeful of doing well.


“It’s a good dressing room and everybody likes playing for the manager, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”

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Yet his contribution to Athletic’s forward play has been vital — of the six goals they have scored, Hughes has been directly involved with five.


I made the point that without Hughes we wont go up. Keeping him fit is the key to our promotion and a few people watered it down. I think the statement above speaks for itself.... Before Hughes came on to the pitch this season we was 3-1 down and looking poor....


Wrap him up in cotton wool Mr Sheridan...they guy is gold dust :D

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From the MEN:


Hughes already eyeing promotion


Fred Austin

24/ 8/2008


ON-FIRE Lee Hughes sent Oldham scorching to the top of League One with a stunning hat-trick in 17 marvellous minutes.


The 31-year-old hitman left Cheltenham shell-shocked with superb strikes in the 45th, 50th and 62nd minutes.


It left the lively Latcs as the only team in the division with a 100 per cent record and former Premiership marksman Hughes insisted: "We can go all the way for promotion.


"There is no doubt the squad is good enough and we also have strength in depth."


Hughes is now on his way to his target of 20-plus goals for the season and he added: "I did have a few more difficult chances before I scored but the ones in front of goal I put away, that's the main thing.


"You have to be in the box to score and that's why I have bagged more than 20 goals in a season quite a few times in my career.


"If I keep getting in there I will score more.


"We have a great team spirit and th at has been shining through on the pitch.


"We work hard for each other and I w ould not have got my hat-trick had it not been for the lads, they made th e chances for me."


But it was also another solid defensive display to shut out Cheltenham and keeper Mark Crossley only had one save to make when he denied Jennison Myrie-Williams to stop them geting back into the game. Oldham have kept two clean sheets in three games.


The visitors were completely wiped out when busy midfielder Danny Whitaker grabbed his first goal for the club with a well-struck 20-yarder five minutes from the end.


Delighted boss John Sheridan said: "Some of our football in the second half was absolutely brilliant, the best since I took charge.


"Our performance was spot on and we might have scored a couple more goals in the first half.


"The way we passed the ball was top-drawer stuff and Lee Hughes showed what he is all about.


"He is a poacher and a very good one.


"He is very clever in the penalty area , he knows where to be at the right time and when the ball falls to him he usually puts them away.


"Hughesy is a big player for us and the trick will be to keep him fit.


"But we have several players playing really well and if they can maintain that week in, week out we will win mo re games than we will lose.


"But I will keep their feet on the ground and none of them will get carried away, I will make sure of that.


"I have told them there is a long way to go and, for the moment, to enjoy being top of the table.


"I said before the season that we will s core goals and no one can argue with 10 in three games.


"We have got the start we wanted and we now have to keep it going for as long as we can."


OLDHAM: Crossley 8, Eardley, 8 Hazell 8, Gregan 8, Lomax 8, Liddell 7 ( Smalley 72 mins, 7), Allott 7 (Maher 86 mins 6), Whitaker 8, Taylor 7, Hughes 9 (O'Grady 72 mins, 7), Alessandra 8.


Subs not used: Fleming, Stam

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