UPDATED 01:56 18th August 2014
STEPHEN IRELAND will be looking to build on a successful 2013-14 campaign after linking up with Mark Hughes for the second time in his career.
The former Ireland international appeared 25 times in his first season at the Britannia Stadium and became a key part of the Welshman’s team which recorded a first-ever top ten Premier League finish.
Ireland, who originally joined Stoke City on a season-long loan from Aston Villa before putting pen-to-paper on a permanent contract in January 2014, had a hugely successful spell under Hughes at Manchester City.
He was named City’s Senior Player of the Year for the 2008-09 campaign - Hughes’ last full season in charge at the City of Manchester Stadium – after producing a string of eye-catching displays.
The 27 year old struggled to hold down a regular starting place following the appointment of Roberto Mancini and in August 2010 he joined Aston Villa in a part-exchange deal that saw James Milner head in the opposite direction.
He joined Newcastle on loan in January 2011 but injuries dashed his hopes of making an impact in the North East.
Ireland was given a new lease of life at Villa by Alex McLeish and was voted the Supporters’ Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season but has not figured on the first team scene since January of this year.
Ireland, who was born in Cork and started his career with Cobh Ramblers before joining City as an 18 year old, has played six times for the Republic of Ireland.