Equality Of Treatment Please
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2009
The call of a national side is strong but John Hughes wants equal treatment north and south of the border.
John Hughes wants equality of treatment for players being called up by their national sides. He says he will be "a very, very angry man" if Premier League teams are allowed to play their Ivory Coast players on Monday after being told Sol Bamba cannot play in Sunday's game against Rangers. Defender Bamba has been told to report to his country's African Nations Cup squad on Sunday when he would normally be getting stripped for action for the Easter Road side. Hughes is disappointed the Ivory Coast would not allow and extra 24 hours grace but accepts FIFA's 14-day release rule for the tournament which starts on January 10. However, he will be keeping a close eye on Monday's English top-flight games involving Chelsea, Manchester City and Portsmouth - as well as Arsenal's game on Sunday - to ensure there are no double-standards when it comes to the likes of Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Aruna Dindane and Emmanuel Eboue.
Hughes said: " If the Ivory Coast says everybody's to meet up on the 27th, fantastic. But I'd be a very, very angry man if Sol went out on the 27th and I watched the English Premier League and there are one or two players playing on the Monday who represent to Ivory Coast. There cannot be one rule for one and other rules for others. As long as it's right across the board, fair enough."
Hughes said he had tried everything he could to secure Bamba's release, while the player himself also made a personal plea to Ivory Coast boss Vahid Halilhodzic. Hughes has always been a supporter of releasing players for national duty as it does no harm to their confidence on their return. He said: " He certainly expressed his views to the manager that he wanted to come and play - he's desperate to play against Rangers. Obviously, I think they've got a real opportunity to go and win it, so he could be away as long as five, six weeks. Every time Sol goes away with the Ivory Coast, I think having that experience and rubbing shoulders with the boys - Drogba and the other boys - who play in the English Premier League makes him a better player. He's been pivotal to everything that we've done. He had to go and fill big (Rob) Jones' jersey, the skipper who was a stalwart for the club. I think he's done it very, very well. Don't forget, he's been nursing a knee problem. I'm just hoping he goes over there and has a real good, cracking tournament. I could be selfish and say, 'I hope they don't do well', but that's not my character. What it does is open the door for someone else. Big Paul Hanlon's been playing left centre-half in bounce matches, he's been working very hard in the gym. Also, Ian Murray can go in there, young Lewis Stevenson can play left-back, and Steven Thicot has not had an opportunity. Whoever goes in there is getting flung right in at the deep end. You're playing against the league leaders, Scottish champions, who have hit really good form. If you go in there and it fazes you or you're scared of it then you shouldn't be at the club. Because if you want to be a winner, you should be going in there and being inspired, and saying, 'Bring it on'."