Hughes saved my career, says Stoke's Ireland

Stephen Ireland has thanked Mark Hughes for rescuing his career by taking him to Stoke City.

The 27-year-old ended a largely unproductive three-year spell at Aston Villa in September when he agreed a loan move to Stoke and linked up with Hughes, his former manager at Manchester City.

After impressing under Alex McLeish in the 2011-12 season, Ireland fell out of favour under current Villa boss Paul Lambert and was rarely included in matchday squads.

It was Hughes who provided the midfielder with an opportunity to take on a new challenge and Ireland is keen to repay the faith shown in him.

"I would have done anything to get the chance to come here," he said. "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.

"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.

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

Ireland, who has scored twice in 20 Premier League appearances for Stoke this season, made his move to the Britannia Stadium permanent in January and expects to extend his stay beyond the end of the season.

"Yes, we're in talks," he added. "They've been going on for a while but there's no pressure from the club at the moment.

"There's no major rush right now. I think something will be done pretty soon."


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