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Ireland Praises Stoke For Rescuing His Career

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Stephen Ireland has paid credit to Stoke City for saving his career as he prepares to sign a new long-term contract at the Britannia Stadium.

The midfielder admits he was going nowhere after becoming stuck in a rut at Aston Villa, where he struggled to produce his best form following a 2010 move from Manchester City.

His cause was not helped by the fact that he played under five different managers, with continuity sadly lacking.

27 year old Ireland was however offered a lifeline by Stoke last summer, on an initial loan agreement, and his fine form under the guidance of Mark Hughes saw the club land him on a permanent basis in January. Fresh terms are now on the horizon for Ireland, who has scored three goals and complimented it with two assists in twelve appearances this season.

The six times capped star may soon be set for a recall to the Irish squad on the back of a fine season but for now he is focusing on life in the potteries, thanking the club for rescuing his career.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said:

“Absolutely, those are the first words that came out of my mouth when I got the call.

“I would have done anything to get the chance to come here. I’m really grateful that I have. I’m 27 and there’s so much more I want to do in football.

“I’m still exactly the same player. I’ve always had a lot to offer, I’ve always been enthusiastic and hungry.

“But the Villa thing is a really long, strange story, purely because I had five managers in two-and-a-half seasons.

“For some reason, as soon as they walked through the door, they decided I wasn’t for them – no matter about all my good intentions. It didn’t matter.

“In the summer, it was difficult for me to know where I was going to be. Would I be playing in the Championship? Would I be going on loan? My time at Villa wasn’t very nice, you’re going to lose a bit of passion when you train on your own for six months.

“When you’re on your own with a football for that amount of time, you wonder what direction you’re going to go in.

“What direction can you go in? My hands were tied. Thankfully I’ve come here and things are starting to go well.

“I just thank Stoke for bringing me in and taking care of me. I want to repay them with my performances.”

Ireland revealed a possible new three year deal is on the table and is hoping to put pen to paper “pretty soon”.

Image courtesy of Stoke Sentinel

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