Premier League clubs continue to monitor Hughes' progress, with it expected that transfer talk will intensify as the January window draws closer.
It came as something of a surprise to see Hughes overlooked in the summer, with the 18-year-old having become one of the Championship's leading lights and an England U21 international.
McClaren, who has inherited the managerial reins at Pride Park from Nigel Clough, concedes that there will come a time when it becomes impossible to fend off the interest in Hughes, but he hopes that Derby will have another clutch of academy graduates ready to fill the void by then.
He said on Hughes, who netted in a 3-1 victory over Leeds United on Saturday: "Our job is to make sure he makes it.
"Eventually he will be too good. What we need behind that is players coming through to replace him."
While McClaren will look to continue nurturing young talent, he also hopes that funds will be made available by the board that allow Derby to mount a sustained push for promotion back to the Premier League.
He added: "I don't know my exact budget, but we need to excite the chairman and the fans.
"It is a great position financially and we don't want to disturb that. We need to improve the team and the squad if we want to challenge for a play-off place.
"But that's my job. I want to come to them with a good plan and hopefully they will back it.
"I picked a club and listened to chief executive Sam Rush and chairman Andrew Appleby who have said, 'Let's go for it'. They want to be in the Premier League, and that's what I want."