Stephen Ireland insists he is happier in his career than he has been for a long time.
Ireland may not be a regular starter for Stoke City, but he has been assured he has a key role to play.
Ireland started each of Stoke’s opening two game of the season against Liverpool and Tottenham on the bench.
But his cameo for the final half an hour against Tottenham was the key to Stoke coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at White Hart Lane.
He said: “I’m the happiest and the most confident I have been here. My aim is to play here as much as I can, I’m really enjoying it here and I want to achieve a lot of personal goals at this football club.
“It’s my job to make an impact on any game we play, whether I start or come on from the bench. I want to get into the team and play week in, week out but I’m a team player, always have been, so when I can chip in then I will always do my best.
“I was feeling very confident when I came on at Tottenham, I was saying that I could change the game so I got on with good intentions and just attacked.
“We have players here on the same wavelength who are playing quick thinking football and I’m really enjoying it.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who also had Ireland under his control at Manchester City, said: “When he came on he was able to affect the game around their penalty box.
“Stevie had a good effect when he went on and he showed a lot of understanding and craft and picked out good people in good areas.
“He is good in possession and very aware of what needs to be done in terms of affecting the game in a positive manner.
“He is able to pick out little runs of strikers and he is able to retain possession in tight areas.
“He gives us that calmness in possession and he’s aware of what’s needed to have a positive effect on the game.
“He can pick out runners or retain possession in tight areas.
“He knows how highly I value him. I probably don’t show it as much as I should in terms of appearances, but we have discussions. He understands I respect his ability.”
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