Stephen Ireland grateful for Stoke City loan

Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland controls the ball in the League Cup semi-final against Bradford on January 22, 2013
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Stephen Ireland says that he feels revitalised at Stoke City following his loan move from Aston Villa.

Stephen Ireland has expressed his gratitude to Mark Hughes and Stoke City for taking him on a season-long loan from Aston Villa.

The Irish midfielder was frozen out at Villa Park and forced to train on his own, but has made nine appearances since moving to the Britannia Stadium on deadline day.

"The last nine months, maybe, I was training on my own," Sky Sports News quotes the 27-year-old as saying. "That's not very nice for a player to be going through that. It's tough, it's mentally draining, you feel not wanted.

"Pre-season I was on my own again and I came here and it's been great. I'm grateful to Stoke, to the manager, for bringing me here and I am going to make sure I make the most of my opportunity.

"We're trying to get the ball down and trying to play the right way. It suits me that we are trying to play football, that's why I am enjoying myself and have got a smile on my face again."

Ireland joined the Villans as part of the deal that took James Milner to Manchester City.

Fulham manager Martin Jol celebrates Darren Bent's winner against Stoke City in the Barclays Premier League match on October 5, 2013
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