Stephen Ireland close to extending Stoke City stay

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is optimistic that midfielder Stephen Ireland will sign a new two-and-a-half-year contract at the Britannia Stadium in the near future.

Mark Hughes is optimistic that recent arrival Stephen Ireland will put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year extension at Stoke City in the near future.

The midfielder signed a permanent deal at the Britannia Stadium in January, after previously joining on a loan deal from Aston Villa in the summer.

His current contract expires at the end of the season, and Hughes is keen to tie the 27-year-old down for the long term because he feels that it would be a good move for all parties concerned.

"We are very hopeful that something is going to be concluded very quickly," the Stoke manager told reporters before their 4-1 victory over Villa on Sunday.

"He was really disappointed he couldn't take part today but we hope it will be concluded.

"Stephen needs stability in his career. He hasn't had that for whatever reason and now he will at a club where he will be settled and have the impact his ability is able to have on a team."

Ireland has made 23 appearances for Stoke in all competitions this season, scoring three goals.

Aston Villa's Fabian Delph is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's third goal against West Brom during their Premier League match on January 29, 2014
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