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By ESPN Staff

NI skip Hughes predicts glittering future for Evans

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes is predicting a glittering future for Jonny Evans with both country and club.

The two men could be paired together at the back tonight against Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier providing the Manchester United defender shakes off a virus in time.

Evans, 20, has not looked back after making his international debut in the stunning victory against Spain 11 months ago.

Hughes said: "There are a lot of good players in this squad but what gives someone the edge is temperament and composure. Jonny has that in abundance.

"I am convinced he will be around for some time with both Northern Ireland and Manchester United.

"He slotted into the team as though he'd playing alongside Rio Ferdinand for three or four years. That's the type of player he is.

"Jonny did a remarkable job against Spain considering it was his first senior international game and there was a great deal of pressure on him because we'd just been beaten by Iceland.

"He shows tremendous character and composure on the ball - I suppose that is something you would expect coming from Manchester United.''

Hughes is likely to have his work cut out when he comes up against Milivoje Novakovic, who scored a brace in the victory against Slovakia.

The 29-year-old striker is enjoying a good run of form and has weighed in with four goals in the Bundesliga for newly-promoted Cologne.

Hughes insists he is relishing the challenge.

"When you play for your country you will always come up against top quality strikers and players, '' said the Fulham defender.

"Players are playing all over the place these days that even a small country could have three players performing for the top sides in Europe.

"We're going to face that problem tonight and we'll just have to be prepared for it.''

UEFA president Michel Platini is taking in the match - he is attending a UEFA Under-19 qualifying tournament in Slovenia where a pilot scheme involving two extra linesman is taking place.

Manager Nigel Worthington is no doubt hoping the Frenchman will again prove to be a good omen. The last time he attended, Georgia were beaten in a friendly earlier this year.

The province do need a bit of luck after taking only one point from their opening two games. They drew with the Czech Republic in their last outing after losing to Slovakia.

Worthington added: "We will be setting out trying to win the game as always. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it does not. You have got to keep your self belief.

"I just hope by the final whistle our players get their just rewards for the hard work they have put in in training and in games. They have been first class and done everything we have asked of them.''

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