Hughes wants to extend Ireland contract
Ireland joined the club on a season-long loan at the start of the season, but made that deal permanent in January.
However, his contract only runs until the end of the current campaign and Hughes has been impressed with the midfielder's performances.
Ireland came in for the suspended Jonathan Walters in Saturday's 3-1 win over West Ham and, when quizzed on the situation, the manager expressed his wish to keep the 27-year-old at the Britannia Stadium.
"I hope so, that's our intention," he said. "It's something that both parties want.
"Today showed what he can bring, we're trying to get it done. I'm sure we will do.
"I think Stephen was a victim of circumstance. He went to Aston Villa and it didn't quite work out.
"A lot of the time it wasn't as a consequence of what Stephen had done, the club policy was changing.
"In terms of ability it has always been there and will always be there. I think now he's at a place where he knows he's appreciated."