sport

Hughes plans to keep Ireland

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has revealed he plans to secure Stephen Ireland on a long-term deal at the Britannia Stadium.

Ireland, who joined Stoke on a permanent basis in January after an initial loan spell from Aston Villa, is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 27-year-old has struggled to hold down a place in Hughes' side since making the move permanent, but Hughes is determined to keep the former Manchester City midfielder at Stoke.

"It's my intention to try to keep Stephen here," Hughes told the Stoke Sentinel. "I've had a discussion with Stephen and want to make it permanent.

"He hasn't played much of late, but that's more to do with the form of other players.

"We've seen his quality in training and he is well regarded, with a good past history, and hopefully we can resolve that and make sure he's here for a couple more seasons."