MARK HUGHES has revealed that he is looking to tie Stephen Ireland to the Club beyond the end of his existing contract.
The Republic of Ireland international initially arrived at the Britannia Stadium on a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa in August, before that deal was made permanent during the January transfer window.
That short-term contract comes to an end this summer however, although Hughes says talks are already well underway in a bid to prolong the midfielder's stay in the Potteries.
"Stephen is somebody that we are hoping to keep here beyond the end of this season," the 50-year-old said at Friday's pre-match press conference.
"I have already spoken to him about that and the feedback that I have got is that he is very much open to that idea too.
"He hasn't featured as regularly as he would have liked recently, but that is more down to the form of other players in his position.
"He is a player that I have a great fondness for, he is a very good person to have around the place and we see on a daily basis the undoubted qualities he has in his locker."
He added: "I have worked with Stephen before and I know what kind of impact he can have. He has shown it in glimpses this season, so he is somebody that I would like to keep with me at Stoke City for another few years at least."