Stalwart set for Fratton return

Richard Hughes scored on his last Blues appearance
Richard Hughes scored on his last Blues appearance

Richard Hughes is set for a Pompey return – in a Bournemouth shirt.

The former Blues midfielder has agreed to join up with the Blues’ League One rivals on a two-year deal.

That raises the prospect of an instant return to his old stomping ground for the 33-year-old, with the Cherries visiting Fratton on August 18.

The Scottish international, who made 165 appearances for Pompey after arriving from Dean Court in 2002, will come out of retirement to make the move.

Hughes hung up his boots after a financial dispute brought his time with the Blues to a close last year.

That centred around the player being left out of the squad for a large part of the season, with another appearance activating a clause which would have handed him a new deal.

Hughes then opened an Italian restaurant in the Soho area of London.

He indicated he would have been keen to return to Pompey under Michael Appleton earlier this summer.

There was no offer made for the player, however, and he has now linked up with former Blues coach Paul Groves at Bournemouth.

That raises the intriguing prospect of Hughes appearing against the side he spent a decade at in the opening league game of the new campaign.

Groves believes Hughes will still have plenty to offer in England’s third tier.

And he is confident the player will have no problems finding his rhythm again after his time out of the game.

Groves said: ‘As a person, he is very intelligent and a solid character. He brings an intelligence to the pitch in terms of his positional play, breaking up play and sensing danger.

‘He will give us balance on the left-hand side and more of a physical presence in both boxes.

‘He has lots of different attributes. He has a wealth of experience, a great understanding of the game and he has played at the top level. He will bring that knowledge to the group.

‘The circumstances were unfortunate with regard to the position he found himself in at Portsmouth.

‘He hasn’t played for a while but he looks after himself. It might take him a little longer than other people to get fit because he has had a spell off. What he will bring to the squad is an ingredient we don’t have a great deal of.’