STEPHEN IRELAND’S Manchester City future is in serious doubt after the midfielder was told he may not make Roberto Mancini’s final 25-man squad for next season and should consider his future.
The 23-year-old suffered a sharp dip in form under the Italian last season and has seen City add two midfielders to their squad this summer in David Silva and Yaya Toure, while continuing their pursuit of Aston Villa’s James Milner.
Ireland, who captained City in their 2-1 defeat by New York Red Bulls on Sunday night but was substituted at half-time, is among several high-profile names that may be surplus to requirements next season as the club looks to overhaul the squad before August.
The midfielder has been advised by the City management to listen to any offers for his services, with Galatasaray the latest club to show an interest.
Ireland has insisted he has no desire to leave a club he joined as a 15-year-old from Cobh Ramblers and may wait until January before considering his position.
Ireland said: “I decided in the summer that I was going to get my head down and do what I can to show the manager that I am worth a place on his team.
“It didn’t go that well for me last season, when there were a lot of changes at the club, but it is only a season ago that I was Player of the Year at the club and my view is that I haven’t become a bad player overnight. The manager hopefully doesn’t think that either.”
Mancini, however, is under pressure to reduce squad numbers before his final list is submitted to the Premier League at the end of August, although Ireland would account for one of the eight “home-grown” players required under the new ruling.
The City midfielder added: “I have read in the papers about supposed interest from Sunderland and Fulham and maybe even Aston Villa but I haven’t heard anything directly. Ideally, I would like to stay and build a future here. I am not going to rush in to anything, anyway. I think it’s best if I see what happens during the first half of the season and perhaps give the situation until Christmas. If things aren’t right at this stage then we can look at it again. I have worked hard during my years at City and I love the club.”
Meanwhile Tottenham’s Ireland forward Robbie Keane, has been told he may yet feature in Harry Redknapp’s plans for next season.
Villa and Celtic, where Keane spent the second half of last season on loan, have both been linked with a move for the 30-year-old. But Redknapp, who ideally wants three new additions to his squad insists there remains a place for Keane, who scored and made one in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon on Sunday.
“Robbie’s situation is that he is still a very, very good player,” said Redknapp. “Hopefully he will be in our 25 but who knows what happens in football? At the moment, I see him being part of the squad. He has got a lot to offer to us. I’d rather he wanted to play as opposed to sitting back and taking the money and doing nothing for it. Robbie is not like that – that’s what makes him what he is.”
Meanwhile, Cork-born striker Billy Clarke could miss the whole of Blackpool’s first Premier League campaign with a serious knee injury. The 22-year-old has been ruled out until April at the earliest after rupturing a cruciate ligament during pre-season.
Clarke was injured just two minutes into Blackpool’s first summer friendly against Tiverton Town on July 16 and it was initially thought he would be out for three months.
However, the problem is worst than first feared and the player has now undergone surgery.
Manager Ian Holloway said: “It might be the whole season now.
“He was looking so sharp in training and had done so much in the summer to try and get over the knocks he had last year.
“We’re all gutted for him, absolutely gutted for him.’’
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