Experienced defender allowed to leave Bristol Rovers for coaching gig at Plymouth Argyle

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Gas free up wages as experienced defender plagued by injury is allowed to take up coaching role at League One outfit Plymouth Argyle.

Bristol Rovers have granted defender Mark Hughes permission to join Plymouth Argyle in a coaching role.

Hughes, who possesses the UEFA A Licence, had been operating as a coach whilst he was injured after the departure of Barton’s right-hand man Clint Hill.

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He will now work alongside Keith Downing, who had previously been at Bristol City at the start of the season, as well as Kevin Nancekivell and Darren Behcet, as they all work under Steven Schumacher.

“It is something I have always wanted to do and football is in my blood,” said Hughes on Plymouth Argyle’s official club website after his appointment.

“Steven and I speak on the phone regularly and I am lucky to be given this opportunity alongside a friend which will make it all the more special.

“I am grateful for the opportunity I got at Bristol Rovers to start my coaching journey and am looking forward to starting a new one at Argyle.”

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The Pilgrims had reported interest in the 35-year-old last month but he was still contracted to the Gas, but after both sides found an agreement, he will now take a role up at the League One club.

Rovers have decided not to stand in his way as Hughes now takes up his first official role in coaching, working with Schumacher, who was a former teammate of his in their playing careers.

The club put out a statement on their website saying: “Bristol Rovers have agreed that defender Mark Hughes can leave the club. The club can confirm that the 35-year-old is set to join League One side Plymouth Argyle in a coaching capacity.

“We would like to thank Mark for his contribution at Rovers and wish him well in his future coaching career.”

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Schumacher, who recently replaced Ryan Lowe after he left for Preston North End, publicly admitted that he would want to link up with Hughes but this was something that irked manager Joey Barton, who was unhappy in Plymouth’s approach.

Hughes, who had played over 200 games for Accrington Stanley and had a vast amount of experience in the Football League, arrived at the Memorial Stadium in the summer. An injury however meant that he would only make six first-team appearances in the blue and white quarters.

The Liverpool-born defender started the first six games of the League Two season but after sustaining an achilles injury, he last made an appearance in September in a 1-0 defeat to Hartlepool United, he won just one game whilst contracted.

He had been close to returning from his injury but his departure now leaves a gap in the defence.

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Given how Rovers are already light on options in defence, the departure of the defender frees up wages and a space in the squad that they could look for new defensive options.

They have already recruited striker Ryan Loft from Scunthorpe United so a central defender could be next on the agenda.

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