William James "Will" Hughes (born 17 April 1995) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Watford.
Born in Weybridge, Surrey, Hughes moved to Derby at the age of two. Hughes was first educated at St Peter's Junior school and then Repton School for secondary school in Derbyshire and played for the school football team, scoring the first goal in a 3–1 defeat to Brentwood in the Rensburg Sheppards ISFA Final. He then went on to play for local side Mickleover Jubilee, before he later signed for Derby County as a first year scholar in the summer of 2011.
On 17 January 2012, Hughes was called up to the England U17 for the first time for the Algarve Tournament in February 2012, he was joined by his teammate Mason Bennett. Hughes appeared in all 3 games, as England won the 3 game tournament with 7 points. Hughes scored a goal in the 2–2 draw against Netherlands U17 on 4 February 2012. Hughes was also called up the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship elite round in March 2012, however England failed to qualify for the main tournament, finishing 3rd in their group on 4 points, with their exit confirmed in a 4–0 loss to Spain U17. In August 2012, Hughes was named as standby for the England U19 squad for a friendly against Germany U19 in September. On 19 November 2013, Hughes scored his first goal for England U21 against San Marino U21.
In November 2012, Hughes made his first appearance for the England U21 squad in a friendly against Northern Ireland U21 on 13 November. Hughes came on as a 65th-minute substitute for Josh McEachran, becoming the second youngest player to get capped for the U21s, only beaten by Theo Walcott. Derby youth academy director Darren Wassall praised Hughes after his call-up to the England U21 side, saying "It's a great achievement to get in at 17 and we are all delighted for him. To make that rise into the Under-21s so soon is fantastic for him and everyone at the club." Hughes called the experience "surreal".
Hughes has been described as a "flair player" who uses through balls and mazy runs to create space for teammates and beat opposition defences in attacking positions.
Hughes said in a December 2012 interview for the BBC, that he bases his play on Barcelona and Spanish international central midfielders Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. Hughes states his strengths are his passing and technical ability and targeted improvements in pace and physical strength.
Hughes' former England U21 coach Stuart Pearce described Hughes as "technically a very sound player". "He rarely gave the ball away in training or in the game he played , which is vitally important at international level. He's progressing really well."
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