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Villa's Ireland will play through the pain

Stephen Ireland will continue to play through the pain of a wrist injury to help Paul Lambert find a solution to the problems at Aston Villa.

Ireland, 26, is a little over three weeks into a six-week recovery period for the broken bone in his wrist, but returned for the 1-0 defeat at Fulham on Saturday after being given clearance to play in a lightweight cast.

The midfielder is still in pain, but has set his sights on playing against Norwich City at the weekend as manager Lambert prepares to face his former club at Villa Park.

"I still feel a lot of pain with it and I'm conscious of it, but I just want to play as much as I can. I don't want to be out any longer so I'm happy to do that, even if it is a bit uncomfortable," he said.

"I'd rather play through the pain than not play at all, because I really want to be in the team as much as I can this year.

"It was horrendously sore and it was more awkward for me to be able to move it. So for running it was uncomfortable because I wasn't able to do anything with it."

Ireland was concerned he would lose his latest chance to justify the £8 million paid to Manchester City for him after struggling under previous managers Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.

Lambert has put his faith in Ireland over the opening few months of the season and indicated that he is prepared to do all he can to integrate him into his side.

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