The 33-year old Northern Ireland international is used to playing alongside regular centre-half Brede Hangeland but knows it is time to step up in order to really warrant his place in the team.
"You work hard to get yourself in the team," said Hughes.
"There's a lot of competition for places. I'll do my best and try and keep the spot as long as I can.
"You have to embrace it (when new players come in). We're all in it together, and the competition keeps everyone on their toes and makes sure no one gets complacent.
"Fernando has looked quality in training and in the pre-season games. We're pretty strong with Brede, myself and Phil (Senderos)."