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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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By ESPN Staff

Ireland signs City deal: "I'm staying for life"

Stephen Ireland has committed himself to Manchester City for life after signing a new five-year contract to stay at Eastlands.

"I never had any doubts about staying," Ireland, the club's player of the year, told the club's website.

"Regardless, I was going to be here, and hopefully for the remainder of my career. I don't see why not. I really want to become a hero here, to hopefully achieve things.

"I'm settled here. I love the club, I love the fans and I don't see what's going to make me leave this club."

Ireland has never relinquished his place despite a total overhaul of the City midfield under the club's billionaire owners.

It promises to be another summer of big changes at the club, but Ireland feels assured of his own place and is looking forward to seeing who else may come through City's doors.

"These are very exciting times," he said. "It's going to be interesting just to see what the line-up will be at the start of next season and how far we can push on.

"Hopefully we can compete for the title and get back into Europe."

Manager Mark Hughes added: "Stephen's new contract is great news for everyone concerned. He was outstanding all last season and is now one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"He thoroughly deserves all the praise that has gone his way after the hard work that he undertook last summer, and I know that he is already aiming to do even better for us next season and beyond."

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