Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ireland Hopes for His Debut; Loan Star's Desperate to Play for Newcastle at Last

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ireland Hopes for His Debut; Loan Star's Desperate to Play for Newcastle at Last

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

STEPHEN Ireland is desperate to pull on a Newcastle United shirt - so he can consign the most difficult period of his career to history. In the summer of 2009, Ireland was on top of his game. Named Manchester City's player of the season, he had risen to the challenge provided by a welter of bigmoney imports and looked set to play a key part in his club's anticipated rise.

But two managerial departures, two changes of club and a knee injury stalled his progress, and frustrated the 24-yearold.

Ireland is hoping to make his Newcastle debut at home to Everton on Saturday, more than a month after joining the club on loan.

If he does, it will be his first appearance since December 6. The midfielder is also hoping it draws a line under a disastrous spell which saw him make just ten Premier League starts in 2010.

"It feels like a new lease of life," he said of his Newcastle move. "All the lads and staff have been brilliant, so it's really good. I'm delighted I made the decision to come here - definitely the right one.

"I'm grateful to be given the opportunity, but I just need to get back on the pitch now.

"I'm frustrated with the injury I've got at the moment. It's not good to come here and just get treatment. I came here to play."

Ireland arrived as negotiations over Andy Carroll's pounds 35m move to Liverpool were at an advanced stage - and his inability to play since has only pushed him further from the mind of his new supporters.

It is typical of the way a bright career has nosedived since Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes as City manager.

"I played for about four or five years at Man City and two years ago had a very good season, winning the player of the year award," Ireland recalled.

"I wanted to come back into pre-season and kick on straight away, which is what happened initially as I was played the first game against Blackburn and scored, and played well for five or six games under Mark Hughes. …

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