Loan star Ireland impresses Hughes

26 September 2013 03:31

Stoke boss Mark Hughes believes Stephen Ireland's match-winning performance against Tranmere was just a tantalising glimpse of what he is capable of.

Ireland marked his first start for the Potters with the opening goal of a 2-0 win over the League One side in the Capital One Cup.

With Peter Crouch's second not coming until the fourth minute of injury time at Prenton Park - with what proved to be the final kick of the game - it was a strike that effectively secured Stoke's place in the last 16 of the competition.

Ireland is hoping to revive his career on a season-long loan at Stoke after falling out of favour at Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old, who enjoyed his best times under Hughes at Manchester City, had not played since January prior to joining the Potters this month and his goal at Tranmere was his first since December 2011.

Hughes said: "Stephen has come in and everybody can see he is an intelligent footballer.

"He understands the game and how to affect the game in a positive manner.

"He took up some great positions in and around the opposition box and when he gets in good areas he will finish. I thought he was excellent.

"But we are still trying to get him up to speed.

"He has missed a lot of senior football. He has not had a lot of game time and it is going to take him a little bit of time to get up to the level I know he is capable of.

Source: PA

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