The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Hodg­son

WILL Hughes’s new con­tract at Derby will be the first of many ac­cord­ing to boss Nigel Clough, who also hopes his young star may be back from in­jury be­fore the end of the sea­son.

The mid­fielder turned 18 ear­lier this month and im­me­di­ately signed a one-year ex­ten­sion to his deal – keep­ing him at Pride Park un­til 2016.

De­spite his young age, the Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tional has be­come a key fig­ure for the Rams and made 35 ap­pear­ances be­fore a groin in­jury struck in Fe­bru­ary.

But de­spite in­ter­est from a num­ber of Pre­mier League clubs, Clough in­sists his longterm fu­ture re­mains with Derby.

“It’s great news, for us and him, that Will’s signed an­other con­tract,” said Clough.

“It’s an agree­ment we had with him from ear­lier in the sea­son that when he turned 18, he’d get an­other year on his con­tract.

“He’s de­lighted. He’s get­ting a well-de­served pay rise, a small one, but hopefully in the next year we’ll get him tied down for even longer if we can.

“Will is the sort of lad you want to build the team around and it’s an im­por­tant time to get con­tracts sorted with play­ers who we want here for next sea­son and be­yond.

“We know there’s go­ing to be in­ter­est in him, that’s ob­vi­ous, es­pe­cially when he’s play­ing again reg­u­larly next sea­son.

“Given the ex­pe­ri­ences he’s had this sea­son, we think he’ll be an even bet­ter player come Au­gust.

“Will is coming on well from his in­jury. He’s ac­tu­ally healed quicker than we thought he would.

“We now have to weigh up whether or not to put him back on the pitch be­fore the end of the sea­son.

“He’s been out for eight weeks so it’s been a lit­tle while, but it would be lovely to get him out there again.

“We’ll as­sess how he feels and what we think as well, but we have to make sure he’s right be­cause hav­ing him ready for the first game of next sea­son is a pri­or­ity.”

STAY­ING: Will Hughes

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