Manchester City to offer Ireland new contract
Manchester City are ready to sit down with Stephen Ireland to discuss a new contract reflecting his improved form under Mark Hughes.
Pending final discussions between manager Hughes and the club's board, talks are expected to begin shortly in an attempt to do something about Ireland's £26,000-a-week salary, which is by no means commensurate with the contribution he is currently making at Eastlands.
It is not even two years since the 22-year-old last agreed a contract which would keep him at the club until June 2012 and, with City's board of the view that any new contract offer must be Hughes' decision, a deal nearer £50,000 a week would appear to be likely. Ireland's position is in stark contrast to that of Daniel Sturridge, whose advisers want more than £60,000 a week for him, a demand which Hughes and the City board are not willing to entertain.
Hughes is hoping that Robinho will be fit for the Uefa Cup trip to Copenhagen this week after he limped out of the 2-0 defeat at Fratton Park on Saturday, with a tight thigh. As Darius Vassell missed Saturday's lacklustre performance on the South Coast with an illness, Hughes needs Robinho fit, otherwise he could be short of forward players. Benjani and Sturridge have already been ruled out, which could leave Craig Bellamy, Felipe Caicedo and Ched Evans as his only options.
Micah Richards is also facing a fitness test on the ankle injury that kept him out at the weekend after it initially failed to respond to treatment.