Stephen Ireland is finally fit again and is training with the first team this week, and will no doubt be on the bench for the game against Everton on Saturday.
Stephen Ireland – on bench on Saturday?
Stephen is on loan until the end of the season from Aston Villa, and if he can produce his best form on Tyneside, the move will probably be made permanent in the summer for around £8M, and that would be a good deal for Newcastle, as Stephen can play in many different positions, and he’s a good footballer.
Indeed, Aston Villa announced yesterday that they made a loss over the last financial year of £37.6M, with their revenues up by a decent £6M to £90M, but wage costs also increased by £9M to £80M, which is far too high and unsustainable, and therefore Villa will need to unload a number of their players this summer.
Push will come to shove with lots of Premier League clubs this summer, as they prepare themselves for the introduction of UEFA’s Fair Play Rules, which start to come into effect next season and essentially require clubs to balance their books over a three year period.
Stephen Ireland had had a troublesome knee injury, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he does through the end of the season, and from yesterday’s comments he seems to like the life on Tyneside, and is looking forward to playing in front of 50,000 crowds at St. James’ Park.
And it seems that Alan also is interested in signing the player permanently in the summer, if the Irishman can show some good form before then.
Pardew talked about Ireland today:
“It’s a big opportunity for Stephen here. He has enjoyed himself so far, has settled in well and this is a chance for him to show what he can do.”
“Stephen didn’t get much of a chance at Aston Villa for one reason or another, but he is a quality player.” “He will give us an extra goal threat from midfield and he can play in several different positions.”
“We are interested in doing something in the summer which would make the move permanent, but a lot of water has to go under the bridge first.” “We have to see what Stephen does and we would have to talk to Villa about what they want to do.”
“Let’s just see how he does first.”
If Joey Barton is not recovered in time to play on Saturday, and with Ryan Taylor now suspended, Alan may give Ireland his debut out on the right wing.
Stephen may be given the job of taking the free kicks and corners which Joey usually takes, and Ryan Taylor did such an excellent job with last Saturday.
But whether Stephen starts on Saturday will depend a lot on how he does in training this week at Benton.