Danny Hughes has denied quitting Down football permanently, saying he was “surprised” to see the word ‘retirement’ used in recent reports.

Comments by Down boss James McCartan following his side’s win over Louth last weekend suggested the injury-plagued Hughes had called it a day, but the Saval club man insists he is open to representing the Mourne men again – providing he can regain full fitness.

"I didn't use that word 'retired'," Hughes told the Irish Independent. "The last time I was talking to James a couple of months ago I said I was just committing to club football for now, because I've had a raft of injuries this last couple of years.

"I wanted to go back and play club football, give commitment there and get fit and injury-free before I started to torture the Down physios. I thought it was better for Down and myself.

"I was non-commital about going back this season. I was certainly surprised to see that I was 'retired.'

"But that's fine. I have no issue with it. Down has been very good to me and I've always given everything. How many more years am I going to get, I couldn't say," said the 32-year-old, who won an All Star in 2010 after Down's run to the All-Ireland final.

"I just want to go back and play club football and if I was playing out of my skin and felt I could offer something, obviously I'd be open to it (returning)," he said.

"Look, maybe that won't happen and James has to move on with what he has. To be fair to him he has to look at the team and say 'right, I really don't want to be asked about Danny any more.'

"But I haven't made a firm decision that I am definitely not going back."