Fulham defender and Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes is in the middle of a hectic schedule – and could not be happier.

Hughes would rather play than train and will lead the team out against Serbia in a friendly at Windsor Park on Saturday night. The fixture comes on the back of a busy domestic and European programme for the Fulham defender under manager Roy Hodgson.

He is up for the challenge on all fronts and said: “The games are coming thick and fast for me, but I prefer it that way.”

He added: “Someone asked me about it recently and I said ‘well, it’s better than sitting at home on a Wednesday stiffing it up’.

“We’ve had a lot of games in the Europa League and I’ve played a few. The manager has rotated the squad a little bit.

“But I don’t see it as a chore because it’s not something that happens every season. Fulham worked very hard to get into the Europa League.

“It’s great to get the chance to play Roma at the Olympic Stadium. You enjoy that, you don’t see it as a chore or a hassle.”

Hughes will have the same mindset going into the Belfast encounter with the World Cup finalists, who finished ahead of France in their qualifying group.

“There are no points at stake, but it’s never meaningless. It is international football and very competitive,” he said. “You’re not thinking ‘this one’s a friendly’. We haven’t changed our build-up and our preparation is the same, the same goals and ambitions and standards.

“This game will be a good test for us. Serbia are an excellent side and maybe aren’t as well known as some of the other nations in Europe. But they are going to the World Cup and that says everything about them.”