Belfast Telegraph

Hughes hopeful over Ireland deal

Mark Hughes hopes Stephen Ireland will sign a new contract with Stoke soon.

Ireland had to sit out Sunday's 4-1 win at Aston Villa under the terms of the midfielder's transfer from Villa Park to Stoke in January.

The 27-year-old has performed well for the Potters ever since he signed for the club, initially on loan, last summer.

He is only tied to the club until the end of the current campaign though, but Hughes hopes that will not be the case for much longer.

"We are very hopeful that something is going to be concluded very quickly," the Stoke manager said.

"He was really disappointed he couldn't take part today but we hope it will be concluded."

Ireland enjoyed a fine start to his career at Manchester City, but he quickly lost his place in the team following the big-money signings that came after Sheikh Mansour's takeover of the club in 2008.

The midfielder has struggled to find consistency in his game since.

He had four years at Villa, but could not hold down a regular first-team place and he was sent out on loan to Newcastle and Stoke.

Hughes, who managed Ireland at City, now hopes he can get the Republic of Ireland international's career back on track.

"Stephen needs stability in his career," Hughes added.

"He hasn't had that for whatever reason and now he will at a club where he will be settled and have the impact his ability is able to have on a team."

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