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Ireland deal done?

Ireland deal done?

Newcastle United are reported to have completed the loan signing of Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa. TOTT takes a look at his career so far.

It does seem ironic that Ireland moved to Villa in part exchange for James Milner, effectively paid for by Villa`s profit on the former Newcastle midfielder. Ireland`s valuation was roughly the same as the profit which the Magpies made on Milner.

For the time being at least, it seems that Ireland will be reunited with his former Manchester City colleague, Joey Barton, although it remains to be seen whether they will be played in partnership. Ireland is known for playing centrally, a position already occupied by Nolan, Barton, Guthrie, Tiote, the injured Smith and Gosling, and potentially Ben Arfa.

Ireland is no stranger to the North East, his last match at St James` Park being memorable, a 6-0 home win whilst he was making his Villa debut.

Some of the landmarks in his career have been against North East clubs, creating fireworks with his first home Premier League goal, a winner against Sunderland on 5th November 2007. He repeated the feat away at Sunderland the following season with his 2nd away PL goal, his 3rd a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw at St James`. He also featured in the stunning 8-1 Man City defeat at Middlesbrough in May 2008.

Having scored twice against Sunderland, Ireland could make his Newcastle debut against Fulham, another club that he has scored twice against. Both of his goals were openers, in a 3-2 defeat in April 2008 at Craven Cottage, to be followed by a 3-1 defeat almost exactly a year later at the City of Manchester stadium.

Labelled as an attacking midfielder, Ireland`s career record features a scoring average of around 1 in 10, except for the 2008-09 season, which saw his rate boosted to slightly better than 1in 4 across all competitions. Ironically, this was without Barton with who he had worked well earlier in his stay at City.

Pardew was on record as saying he wanted to bring in an offensive player, with the question mark over what was meant by the word "offensive". Ireland will be remembered for dropping out of his national squad, first claiming the death of his maternal grandmother, followed by the claim relating to his paternal grandmother, then his step grandmother and finally his girlfriend`s miscarriage, none of which, surprisingly, turned out to be true.

The player has an undoubted natural talent. The question for him is whether he can break into a team which seems to have its greatest strength in depth in Ireland`s position.

There are more questions for the supporters. Does his arrival mean that Pardew is to shape his own side, and is the prospect of a permanent deal at the end of the season a clue as to which of Hughton`s band of brothers will be eased out? How will this affect the opportunities for younger players, such as Vuckic?

In the shorter term, Pardew began his reign with a 4-5-1, a system abandoned by his predecessor. Does the addition of depth in midfield suggest a shift to a different tactical approach?

At the time of writing, there is no news to suggest that some of the parts of the squad lacking cover, notably full back and right wing, will be covered. Ireland`s signing can only be a sensible move if there are more to come.

So far in this transfer window, we have seen a variety of players going out on loan, Tavernier and Kadar, mean even less defensive cover. Routledge to QPR has removed a wide option. Smith`s injury means a distinct lack of reserve in the holding role, whilst Xisco`s imminent return to Deportivo comes after a pre-season when he covered on the left wing.

Stephen Ireland thrived under Pearce, Eriksson and Hughes. His application has been questioned by novices Mancini, Trappatoni and Houllier. Does Pardew have the experience to resurrect the player`s career?

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday January 30 2011
Time: 7:50PM

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The signing does have more questions than answers but if he plays to his past potential then a good move..
30/01/2011 19:58:00
i hope he bloody does well so that he isnt so idle next season. thanks for giving our reserves a run out
30/01/2011 20:01:00
You are welcome to the bone idle ***** !
30/01/2011 20:25:00
He obviously didnt find villa able to inspire him to good performances... Maybe he will find his feet here
30/01/2011 20:34:00
Thank you to the Villa supporters for your ringing endorsement of our judgement of Pardew's acumen.
30/01/2011 20:41:00
If you can get him playing like he did in Hughes's first season then you will have one hell of a player on your hands - He will more or likely be the most skillful player you have but the guy clearly has mental issues and if you can work round them issues then he will defo be your best player
30/01/2011 20:59:00
Hasn't put a decent shift in for us whenever he's been on the pitch, GH obviously doesn't think much of him. That being said he's still on our books, so him doing a good job for you is win win...either his value goes up and we can at least sell for him a few quid, or he comes back and does a job here. Obviously talented but no one is entirely sure what is going on inside his head!
30/01/2011 21:30:00
good luck with him he's definatley not the full quid lads, and i'll be glad to see gone from the villa
30/01/2011 23:58:00
No, the man is a mong.
31/01/2011 15:33:00
My opinion of him is that he is a waste of space and im surprised he passed his medical due to him having no backbone...Im not gonna be all too negative about him so i hope he finds his feet at newcastle and gets fit and firing like he use to for city so that he can come back to villa unless a pernament deal with newcaslte is done, and he can have another go.
31/01/2011 17:42:00
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