Mark Hughes: 'Stephen Ireland not ready for international return'

Stoke manager Mark Hughes on the touchline during the match against Manchester City on September 14, 2013
© Getty Images
It is too soon for Stephen Ireland to make a comeback on the international stage, according to Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has claimed that it is too soon for Stephen Ireland to make his return for the Republic of Ireland.

Despite not making an international appearance since 2007, Ireland recently suggested that he would be willing to join up with the squad again following Giovanni Trapattoni's departure.

"Stephen is still trying to get back to the levels he knows he can reach and at the moment he is not quite there," said Hughes.

"He is very close, but I think getting involved with the international squad would be a little bit premature for him at the moment.

"But certainly he has said he is more than happy to have a conversation in regard to being involved again."

Ireland joined Stoke on loan from Aston Villa in the summer.

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Stoke City at the Bolyen Ground on August 31, 2013
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