Melbourne City sign veteran Northern Ireland defender

Melbourne City have added to their defensive ranks with the signing of veteran Northern Ireland international Aaron Hughes.

The 35-year-old Hughes joins the A-League outfit on a one-year deal after being released by Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion.

It is the club’s fifth signing ahead of the new season, following Socceroos defender Ivan Franjic, Steve Kuzmanovski, Corey Gameiro and Harry Novillo, who recently signed a permanent deal.

Hughes said former team-mate and ex-City player, Damien Duff, was instrumental in his decision to join the A-League outfit.

“I played a few years with Damien Duff (at Fulham) and he spoke highly of not just the club but the people as well and said the whole experience was fantastic,” Hughes said.

“I just want to come in here and have a good season, be solid and contribute what I can to the team. Hopefully we can improve and go even further this year.”

Hughes, who can play in any position across the back four, began his career at English Premier League club Newcastle United.

He made 279 appearances in all competitions for the club following his debut as an 18-year-old and has also enjoyed spells at Aston Villa, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers.

A successful six and a half-year spell with Fulham saw him play an integral role in the club’s run to the 2010 Europa League final.

In May this year he played his 96th senior international game, becoming the most capped outfield player for Northern Ireland.

Melbourne City FC coach John van’t Schip said Hughes’ vast experience was a huge boon for the club, which has used one of their two remaining visa spots to sign the veteran.

“Aaron is an extremely experienced professional and is an excellent addition to our squad,” van’t Schip said.

“He brings with him a vast amount of Premier League and international experience which will be of great benefit to the team and his qualities will greatly strengthen our defence.”