Aaron Hughes to mentor Hearts defenders as manager admits game time will be limited

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Aaron Hughes will get minimal game time as his Hearts contract runs down, but manager Craig Levein insists the Northern Irishman is vital for his influence on younger players.

Aged 39, Hughes has made three starts and three substitute appearances since signing a 12-month contract extension last summer. The last of those came in December’s 5-0 defeat at Livingston. He has been told he won’t feature too often during the second half of the season as Christophe Berra, John Souttar, Clevid Dikamona and on-loan Conor Shaughnessy compete for central defensive places. However, Levein explained to the Evening News that Hughes has a key role to play off the field. His dressing-room influence is something the manager is keen to harness as much as possible between now and the summer.

Aaron Hughes could be in his final season as a player, but his influence is valuable to Hearts

Aaron Hughes could be in his final season as a player, but his influence is valuable to Hearts

“I’ve been talking constantly to Aaron. His game time is going to be limited but his influence is such that I want him around. I want him helping on matchdays,” Levein explained.

“He has a lot of advice to pass on to younger boys. He is good to have around for guys like John and Conor. He can help us in a different way rather than