Stoke City’s Stephen Ireland was unable to play against his former club Aston Villa due to a clause in his contract which prohibits the midfielder from playing against the club which he used to play for and Mark Hughes expressed his disappointment for not being able to use Ireland in the match.

Mark Hughes Sky Sports News: “Aston Villa stipulated that they weren’t going to allow the loan deal to be changed unless it was in the contract that Stephen couldn’t play against them’’.

“We had to respect that, or we wouldn’t have got the deal done. It is a shame for us because Stephen was excellent last weekend against West Ham. But I think it shows Aston Villa understand what a good player we have got. So you can understand it from their point of view – they don’t particularly want to help us.”

Stoke City travelled to Villa Park on Birmingham on March 23 as they faced off against Aston Villa and even with the absence of Stephen Ireland, Stoke still managed on claiming a 4-1 triumph.

Stephen Ireland arrived from Aston Villa on a loan deal until a permanent deal was agreed later on. His current contract expires at the end of the season but the head coach of the club, Mark Hughes is believed to be interested in extending his stay.

Hughes admitted: “We are very hopeful that something is going to be concluded very quickly’’.

‘’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.”

It is expected that Stephen Ireland agrees to a contract extension with the club in the next few weeks.

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