STANLEY defender Mark Hughes has signed a new and improved contract at the Wham Stadium.

The Reds had already taken up an option to keep the 32-year-old at the club for the coming campaign with the new deal ensuring there is another one in place for the 2020/21 season.

The Liverpool-born defender joined the club permanently in January 2016, after previously having a brief loan spell in 2013.

In the three-and-a-half-years since, the centre-back has made 165 appearances for the club and has contributed with eight goals.

He played the most minutes for the club in the league during the 2018/19 season, as he featured in every single league game and accumulated 4,124 minutes in the process.

“I’ve probably played my best football here and I think the gaffer gets the best football out of me," Hughes said.

“Hopefully we can take last year as a learning curve and we can progress and push onto bigger and better things.

“I enjoy getting fit and I know that fitness is a massive part of the game now.

“As you get older you’ve got to look after yourself more and I feel as fit as I’ve ever felt.”

Former Everton youngster Hughes has played for Northampton, Bury and Morecambe among others and also had a spell with North Queensland Fury in Australia.

He joined Stanley having left Stevenage three years ago and has become a firm favourite with the Reds faithful.

“Since he came to us he’s been great and he’s played a lot of games, he’s very durable," Reds manager John Coleman told the club's website.

“He’s one of the most intelligent footballers, or certainly one of the most intelligent defenders that I’ve ever worked with.

“The players appreciate his ability to start our attacks off, and also he’s a good defender who chips in with the odd important goal, so it was a no brainer for us.

“We know we get the games out of him and we wanted to extend his contract, so everyone’s happy.”