Former player McCarthy believes that Hughton faces a tough challenge at St Andrews.
“I’m hoping every single player that we sign becomes a hero and has a great season and Chris Hughton got a lot of respect for what he achieved at Newcastle, and we do wish him well, but people need to be realistic," McCarthy told talkSPORT.
"Just look at the quality of the players we've lost. We've lost a lot of strength and winners in Ferguson, Gardner, Larsson, Johnson.
“They really have ripped the heart out of that team and we're going to struggle."
The 40-year-old has insisted fans need to be “realistic” and understand that relegation may be a possibility.
"I think Chris Hughton needs to be given a realistic target and it would be to make sure we stay in that division next year,” he added.
"It feels like the club are in a mess and we're going to lose more players. Rightly the fans are worried and what should be an exciting time looking forward to the new season is really depressing for everybody at the club."
Hughton’s side commence their campaign away to Derby on Saturday, August 13.