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Ireland: Hughes saved me

Stephen Ireland credits Mark Hughes with saving his career as he prepares to sign a new long-term contract at Stoke City.

Last Updated: 31/03/14 at 09:47 Post Comment

Stephen Ireland: Poised to pen a new three-year deal

Stephen Ireland: Poised to pen a new three-year deal

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The midfielder admits he was going nowhere after becoming stuck in a rut at Aston Villa, where he struggled to produce his best 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.

Ireland was, however, offered a lifeline by Stoke last summer, on an initial loan agreement, and his fine form under Hughes' guidance has seen him land a permanent switch in January and the offer of fresh terms.

The 27-year-old said when pressed on whether the Potters boss had rescued his career: "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."

On a possible new three-year deal, Ireland added: "Yes, we're in talks. 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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A

nd we always will love Ozil. I don't really mind if no other team can see just how brilliant he is, or if people think he is rubbish, because we know he is far from it. He is a fantastic player, and if people cannot see that it can only be a good thing, in that he will be at Arsenal for years to come, pulling the strings from behind a glass veil.

ganachus
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

I

like the list and Ozil in particular does seem under appreciated when you look at his stats (an odd thing considering his fee or maybe because of it). Palace have a few and I've always thought Dwight Gayle at Palace was under rated, certainly when you look at his goals per game ratio. You can probably also add Ryan Bertrand at Saints who should be in the England team in my view.

sensiblepoolfan
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

N

ew Shaun Wright Phillips, there I've said it. If any club offers stupid money we'd be stupid to say no, he's not a potential worldie by any stretch and I feel that after a few years warming the bench at city or Chelsea he'll be back at QPR smoking sheesha pipes under Harry Redknapp.

uncle monty
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