Former Fulham centre back Aaron Hughes has joined Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland international coaching staff.

Hughes, who won 112 caps for his country and was part of the Northern Irish squad who reached the second round of Euro 2016, had previously served as the Northern Irish technical director, overseeing the men’s and women’s sides. The Cookstown-born defender, who made 250 appearances in seven superb years at Craven Cottage, joins O’Neill’s revamped coaching staff as the Green and White army prepare for the start of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign against San Marino later this month.

O’Neill, now in his second stint in charge of the national side having led his country to their first major tournament in three decades, said:

Aaron brings great experience as a player and a level of professionalism which will be particularly invaluable to the younger players in the squad. Having someone who has represented their country as many times as he did can only be a positive thing to have around the squad.”

Hughes, who joined Fulham from Aston Villa for £1m in 2007, was half of the miserly central defensive partnership with Brede Hangeland that took the Whites all the way from the Great Escape to the UEFA Europa League final three years later.