Stephen Ireland's Tyneside future
Stephen Ireland is injured until the end of the season. TOTT assesses his prospects for next season.
Despite Pardew suggesting in this morning`s news that Ireland has a significant role to play for the rest of the season, the Toon medics disagree. He has been ruled as unavailable for the rest of the campaign due to the ankle injury he sustained against Blackpool.
Ireland claimed to have been overwhelmed by the reception he received when taking the field against Manchester United, having taken a 10 week warm up for the big event. As every player knows, the best receptions are worth waiting for.
Of course we were all filled with a sense of anticipation. Ireland was able to upset his manager at Manchester City more than the other Champions League challengers combined.
His talent for frustrating was continued at Villa, having been a makeweight in the Milner deal. Houllier obviously decided that a makeweight was too heavy a burden before farming him out to a club which made a huge profit on transfer deadline day and felt that they had to reward the loyal support with a "wow" signing.
Ireland has made significant contributions when he has played in Newcastle matches. In his 139 minutes that he has been on the pitch during Toon games, we have yet to concede a goal and have scored 6 during his 111 minutes on the St James` turf. Unfortunately for him, 90 of those most productive minutes for Newcastle were in the claret and blue of Villa.
Ireland offers much more than his obvious skill. He is said to be excellent for morale and has kept spirits high in the treatment room, to the extent that Dan Gosling is desperate to get back to playing. His former Irish international colleague Leon Best is similarly keen to return.
It is in keeping with the demise of his international career and his car colour schemes that Ireland and his girlfriend have developed similar His and Hers injuries
Despite alleged approaches from overseas, Ireland becoming a permanent meber of the squad in the summer is still a possibility. Not since Kieron Dyer has there been a player who can keep the club physios in such time consuming employment.
We keep our fingers crossed that Ireland will indeed adapt to the wage structure of the club this summer, and that Ashley, Llambias and Pardew can accommodate his demands for a pink leather treatment couch.
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