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OFFICIAL club website of stoke city

Ireland In Contention

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STEPHEN IRELAND is back into contention for this weekend's Barclays Premier League showdown against Newcastle United, boss Mark Hughes confirmed to Stoke City Player on Friday morning.

The former Aston Villa midfielder, who has impressed at the Britannia Stadium this term, was absent from the side during last Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea through illness.

However, he has recovered ahead of the encounter against the Magpies leaving Hughes with a major selection dilemma, especially with Charlie Adam also expected to be available despite suffering a broken nose in training earlier in the week.

"Stephen is back available to us which is a boost, but also Charlie should be ok as well after an unfortunate incident in training in the build-up to the game," the Welshman said.

"We will have to check up on him between now and kick-off because it was a nasty bang that he received - and in fact broke his nose in a number of different places.

"That is still a bit tender, as to be expected, so we are getting a mask made up for him, which should be with us today ready for him use tomorrow if needs be."

Meanwhile, Hughes confirmed that Oussama Assaidi has visited a knee specialist in the Netherlands in a bid to speed up his rehabilitation back from injury - but isn't anticipating him being available to make his return tomorrow.

"Ozzie is back over here again now after being checked over by a guy in Holland, and then he needed to go over and see the guys at Liverpool too," he added.

"Because he isn't our registered player sometimes you have to send them back for them to make sure that they are pleased with everything that we are doing with him, and of course they are.

"We are just all frustrated that the final five percent of his injury hasn't resolved itself yet because we would like to have him available to us.

"He certainly won't be available on Saturday, but hopefully it will be just one more week before we can think of including him in the squad again."

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