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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Stephen Ireland happy to "feel wanted"

Stephen Ireland says “feeling wanted” was the main factor in joining Stoke on a permanent basis.

Stephen Ireland could be in line to end his international exile with Ireland.
Stephen Ireland has made 21 Premier League appearances for Stoke this season.

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Ireland, 27, had been on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, but has now signed a three-year contract with Mark Hughes’ side.

“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,” he told the club’s official website.

“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.”

Ireland also thanked Hughes, who he played under at Manchester City, for helping him to re-establish himself after falling out of favour at Villa.

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

Hughes has backed Ireland to rediscover his best form at Stoke during the coming years.

“We're delighted that Stephen has committed himself to us. He's an outstanding player; I think we've seen that in the time that he's been with us,” he said.

“He's someone I've worked with before and that will help Stephen because he enjoys working in a stable environment where he knows people. I think that gets the best out of him and we'll reap the benefits of that and I think the next few years will be great for him.

“He's still a young man and we're arguably getting him at a time in his career when he should be at the peak of his powers. I think it's a great opportunity both for Stephen and the club.”

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