Bradford City centre half Rory McArdle predicts big things from fast learner Carl McHugh

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Carl McHugh in action for the Donegal underage football team, shortly before he took up a scholarship with Reading at the age of 16 Carl McHugh in action for the Donegal underage football team, shortly before he took up a scholarship with Reading at the age of 16

Carl McHugh’s rise from teenage wannabe to defensive lynchpin has been one of the stories of City’s remarkable season.

The youngster has enjoyed a debut campaign to remember in senior football, capped with that thumping header in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg which has given the underdogs a genuine chance at Villa Park tomorrow night.

McHugh only earned a contract on the eve of the campaign after catching the eye during the summer while on trial.

But he was thrown in the deep end after the double injury blow to Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies at Burton in October.

The 19-year-old has since come on leaps and bounds – but that comes as no shock to regular central defensive team-mate Rory McArdle.

He has been impressed with the Irishman since day one.

It was a big ask to come in for the likes of Olly and Dava but I was always confident that Carl could handle it from what I’d seen of him prior to that

Rory McArdle

McArdle said: “I remember when Carl came over to Ireland. He trained with us and you could see he was a good player from the start.

“It must have been very difficult for him coming into the squad on trial because he didn’t know anyone there. But he fitted in straight away.

“He’s a nice lad as well, which I think always helps. He’s not got any arrogance about him, he’s so down to earth and prepared to work hard and you can’t ask for more than that.”

Phil Parkinson splashed out around £30,000 last week to bring in experienced Michael Nelson from Kilmarnock. With Davies still a while off being ready, the City chief felt that another old head was required. But he has been full of praise for the way the younger centre halves have stepped into the breach.

Loanees Curtis Good and Tom Naylor have played their part but McHugh has shouldered the bulk of the burden with 17 appearances.

McArdle said: “Nobody could have predicted what would happen at that Burton game and the way the team finished that day.

“It was a big ask to come in for the likes of Olly and Dava but I was always confident that Carl could handle it from what I’d seen of him prior to that.

“His reading of the game is really good and he’s got to realise he’s got a lot of strengths.

“If he has one problem, it’s that sometimes he falls out with himself a little bit too easy if he feels he’s made a mistake.

“In a way it’s a good thing because it shows he’s disappointed in himself if he doesn’t win a header. But he’s not going to win every single one, nobody does.”

And McArdle has no need to nurse his younger partner through games because McHugh has learned so fast.

“It makes my job easier if I talk to Carl because I know he’s in the right position.

“He’s also talking a lot more now than when he first came. That comes with confidence and getting to know the lads.

“But we speak all the time. Every day we’ll have a conversation, not just about the next game but anything.

“He’s growing as a player and I really predict big things from him in the future.”

Comments (8)

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9:54am Mon 21 Jan 13

macca1969 says...

Got to agree, he is the best young defender I have seen for many a year. Also I would expect him too play at a higher level than Nahki and eventually be worth a lot of money. Good strong defenders that can read the game so well are hard to come by. Hope we can see him continue to develops for a few more seasons yet though,possibly a future club captain if we keep him and climb the leagues
Got to agree, he is the best young defender I have seen for many a year. Also I would expect him too play at a higher level than Nahki and eventually be worth a lot of money. Good strong defenders that can read the game so well are hard to come by. Hope we can see him continue to develops for a few more seasons yet though,possibly a future club captain if we keep him and climb the leagues macca1969
  • Score: 0

10:02am Mon 21 Jan 13

ricky76 says...

fIrst time I saw McHugh at Wigan he looked like a experience pro not a youthful 19 year old just starting his career. He may look poor as a left back but as a centre Back he reminds so much of Dean Richards (R.I.P) so natural on the ball and isnt afraid of anything what a find by PP and like Macca says a possible future captain of the club
fIrst time I saw McHugh at Wigan he looked like a experience pro not a youthful 19 year old just starting his career. He may look poor as a left back but as a centre Back he reminds so much of Dean Richards (R.I.P) so natural on the ball and isnt afraid of anything what a find by PP and like Macca says a possible future captain of the club ricky76
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10:04am Mon 21 Jan 13

Dancinfeet says...

Sometimes forget he is only 19. He's been lucky to get his chance with injuries and what not but boy has he taken it. Hope he sticks with him at villa he has definitely earned it.
Sometimes forget he is only 19. He's been lucky to get his chance with injuries and what not but boy has he taken it. Hope he sticks with him at villa he has definitely earned it. Dancinfeet
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11:07am Mon 21 Jan 13

lawsonio123 says...

A Good Lad with a great time in front of him Good Luck at Villa you have more than earned your chance
A Good Lad with a great time in front of him Good Luck at Villa you have more than earned your chance lawsonio123
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12:05pm Mon 21 Jan 13

gspot01 says...

McHugh is defo the player of the season so far for me consiering the circumstances. His debut against Wigan was awesome and then he backed that up by putting Gervinho in his pocket. If its true about him taking a 50% pay cutto coe to England then even more credit to him!!!
.
Good luck to the lad.
McHugh is defo the player of the season so far for me consiering the circumstances. His debut against Wigan was awesome and then he backed that up by putting Gervinho in his pocket. If its true about him taking a 50% pay cutto coe to England then even more credit to him!!! . Good luck to the lad. gspot01
  • Score: 0

2:44pm Mon 21 Jan 13

balbrigganfc says...

Predicting big things from this Irish International, just watch and see.

Watch this space for more jaw dropping predictions, from Balbriggan FC, nobody makes predictions like me.

CTID
Predicting big things from this Irish International, just watch and see. Watch this space for more jaw dropping predictions, from Balbriggan FC, nobody makes predictions like me. CTID balbrigganfc
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Mon 21 Jan 13

tyker2 says...

mchugh will be signed by a bigger club for certain:another good display at Villa and the bids will come in for certain
mchugh will be signed by a bigger club for certain:another good display at Villa and the bids will come in for certain tyker2
  • Score: 0

9:35am Tue 22 Jan 13

Whoisevans? says...

He looks pretty composed when he plays. His attacking ability is very good may be a plan to play him up front if were stuck for awhile he can score like a center forward.
He looks pretty composed when he plays. His attacking ability is very good may be a plan to play him up front if were stuck for awhile he can score like a center forward. Whoisevans?
  • Score: 0

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