Hughes keen to extend Ireland's Stoke deal

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is confident of prolonging Stephen Ireland's stay at the club beyond the end of the season.

The 27-year-old initially made the switch to the Britannia Stadium on a season-long loan from fellow Premier League outfit Aston Villa in August.

Ireland made the move permanent in the January transfer window, but his current deal is due to expire at the end of the campaign.

But Hughes has revealed talks are ongoing to extend his stay, and says Ireland is keen to remain in Staffordshire.

"Stephen is somebody that we are hoping to keep here beyond the end of this season," Hughes said.

"I have already spoken to him about that and the feedback that I have got is that he is very much open to that idea too.

"He hasn't featured as regularly as he would have liked recently, but that is more down to the form of other players in his position.

"He is a player that I have a great fondness for, he is a very good person to have around the place and we see on a daily basis the undoubted qualities he has in his locker.

"I have worked with Stephen before and I know what kind of impact he can have. He has shown it in glimpses this season, so he is somebody that I would like to keep with me at Stoke City for another few years at least."

Hughes was speaking ahead of Stoke's visit to Carrow Road to face Norwich City on Saturday, and the Welshman revealed he has doubts over the availability of Peter Odemwingie (calf) and Marko Arnautovic (hamstring).