Hughes: Future is bright for Pompey

Wes Thomas, right, scored the opening goal in Oxford's 3-0 win over Pompey at the start of the season

Thomas wants U’s to capitalise on Pompey home form

Richard Hughes has backed Pompey for a bright 2011 – with or without him and Michael Brown.

The Blues head into the turn of the year sitting in 13th spot, comfortably away from the relegation zone they formerly occupied.

It has been a remarkable upturn in results since October by Steve Cotterill's troops.

Hughes now joins Brown on the sidelines for the foreseeable future as they bid to reach agreement over their contracts.

That robs Cotterill's paper-thin squad of two more players ahead of the trip to Watford on New Year's Day.

But Hughes believes there is every reason for fans to be positive in 2011.

And he is convinced Cotterill can help steer his side into the Championship's top six.

He said: 'The last thing me and Brownie want is for the focus to be taken away from what has been done on the field and on the training pitch.

'The manager, coaching staff and all the players have given absolutely everything to be in a position of having a real fighting chance throughout 2011.

'And I believe we are nicely placed to make a push. What a fantastic team effort so far for us to be in a position where we are very much alive to get into the top six.

'We are still in there, despite the problems we had at the beginning of the season off the field.

'Hopefully, we can sort everything out off the field and these contract situations can be sorted one way or another.

'More importantly, the team can push on and get into the top six which is where, I believe, we belong.

'We are in a nice position to make a push now.

'You always get someone coming up from the pack that are a real threat and we hope it is us.'

Hughes certainly played his part in the gutsy 3-3 result at Leeds on Tuesday.

Making his first league start since August, he scored with a deflected effort and created another as Pompey pulled off a last-gasp draw.

The long-serving midfielder believes his display was testament to Cotterill.

And he has praised the Blues boss' impact since landing at Fratton Park in the summer.

He added: 'Coming into a team on the up, playing well and a form team away from home made it easier for me.

'The manager is very resilient and very honest and that is the way he wants his teams to play.

'He's got a group of lads who want to do that for him and we play some nice stuff as well.

'When you earn the right to play, good things will happen and you will play some nice football.'