Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Ireland’s fired up for Manchester derby

Stephen Ireland expects to be fit for Sunday's Manchester derby.

The City midfielder was forced to miss the second half of the weekend win over Arsenal after aggravating an ankle injury he originally suffered at Portsmouth last month.

Blues boss Mark Hughes was concerned the 23-year-old would miss out, particularly as Robinho is already sidelined, Carlos Tevez is a major doubt and disciplinary trouble continues to hang over £25million frontman Emmanuel Adebayor.

But Ireland has been quick to play down fears over his fitness, insisting he will be ready for the Old Trafford encounter.

“I can't wait for the match and I am confident that I will be fine,” Ireland said. “The injury was painful on Saturday but the three points soon made that fade.”

Always a keenly-contested affair, this weekend's derby clash promises to be the most intriguing for years.

If the early evidence is anything to go by, City have made good use of the huge amounts of money that have been invested by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

And Tevez's controversial summer move from United to City provides added spice.

“There will be an extra edge to this game, there is no doubt about that,” said Ireland. “Carlos Tevez coming here and some of the things that have been said this summer may even sharpen that edge. There is bound to be plenty of banter before the match and in the stands at Old Trafford though I would like to think that there will be a definite line that will not be crossed.

“Derby games are great; the nerves beforehand, the build-up, the fans.”