Mark Hughes: 'Stephen Ireland the spark we need'

Stephen Ireland of Stoke City reacts after having a goal ruled out for offside during the Barclays Premier League match against Hull City on December 14, 2013
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Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes that an injury-free Stephen Ireland could spark the Potters into life this season.

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes that an injury-free Stephen Ireland could spark his team back into life during a stuttering Premier League start.

Hughes said that Ireland, who returned to match action in midweek after five weeks on the sidelines, has the creativity to help Stoke thrive.

The manager told reporters: "He's an important player for us, a good player, good technically, good awareness.

"And certainly at home with the way teams want to set up against us, he's one of those players that has the creative spark, that ability to pick a pass and open the door."

The Potters host under-pressure Newcastle United on Monday in the Premier League.

Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Stoke City at Etihad Stadium on August 30, 2014
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