sport

Ireland signs new contract

Stoke playmaker Stephen Ireland has signed a new three-year contract at the Britannia Stadium.

The Republic of Ireland international has rebuilt his career with the Potters under manager Mark Hughes and is now committed to the club until the summer of 2017.

The 27-year-old told the Stoke website: "It's important for every player to feel wanted and to be a part of a family and to be honest I haven't had that for a long, long time.

"Thankfully I have felt that warmth here at Stoke and truth be told I couldn't really be in a better place than I am at the moment.

"For that, I have to thank the gaffer immensely because he is the main reason why I came here in the first instance, and of course, he is a big factor in why I am delighted to agree this new deal now.

"I have also been able to build a good relationship with the supporters too, and that is very warming to me, because it has been a long time since I have felt loved at a football club."

He added: "I wouldn't have been able to enjoy my football again like I have done if the manager hadn't brought me here in the first place, so of course, I am incredibly grateful to him and the club for doing that."

Ireland was considered one of the hottest properties in the Premier League during his early career at Manchester City but a subsequent move to Aston Villa saw his career take a nosedive.

An unsuccessful loan to Newcastle was followed by another temporary stay at Stoke, who made the switch permanent in January 2014.