MARK HUGHES is confident he can help Stephen Ireland recapture the form that made him such a big hit at Manchester City.
Ireland, who joined City on transfer deadline day on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, flourished under Hughes' management at City, culminating in him being named Senior Player of the Year in 2009.
The 27 year old admits he has arrived at the Britannia Stadium with a point to prove after a disappointing spell at Villa and is relishing the opportunity to work with his old boss.
Hughes is delighted to have the midfielder on board and believes he can play a key role for the Potters.
"A lot of the reasons that things have gone well for him recently have got nothing to do with Stephen as a footballer or as a person - it was just circumstances," he said.
"Managers changed and circumstances at Villa as a club where they wanted to go financially affected Stephen as well.
"Overall, he hasn't done a great deal wrong; he just needs to get his career back on track at a place where he'll get game time and have the opportunity to show what he can do."
Ironically, Ireland - along with fellow deadling day signing, Austrian international Marko Arnautovic - could make his Stoke debut against City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday week.
Hughes added: "He's a little bit short in fairness because he hasn't had any match time since January, so he's a little bit behind fitness-wise.
"We'll have a look at him in the week before the City game but if he looks in good nick and I think he's ready, he will be very much in my thoughts."