Alan Pardew has offered Stephen Ireland some hope there is still time to get a permanent deal at Newcastle in the summer.
Stephen Ireland – still injured – this time with thigh strain
But that’s only if he impresses in the final games of the season, and if he can overcome his injury problems, which have dogged him since he arrived on Tyneside in late January.
We can only assume that when Stephen has been training he has looked good, but of course he picked up a thigh strain last week, and he will now miss the game at Stoke City, according to Alan Pardew today. Oh my!
Newcastle will have a first option on Ireland to sign him in the summer, and the fee will probably be around £8M, but he first must prove he can reproduce the form that made him one of Manchester City’s best players.
We’d love to see Ireland sign, but we wonder what that was all about last week, when he was quoted taking a shot at his former managers? Nothing much has happened since, and that’s probably good for both Ireland and for Newcastle too, but it did put a question mark over his character.
With just over two months to impress the Newcastle manager, time may be running out for the former Ireland international.
Pardew seems to be okay with the current situation:
“He is under a little bit of pressure because there aren’t many games left, but when you’ve got a player of Stephen’s character, I don’t think that is a bad thing.” “He’s still got time to impress me because I still think there is a chance of something permanent here for Stephen.”
“Things at Villa aren’t going too well.” “But I want to have a good look at him before he goes back.””He is a player who has played on a big stage in the past, it’s not like he is coming from a team which isn’t high profile.”
“Manchester City have been very high profile, there were big players arriving but he was their best player. I think he can handle the big stage here.” “‘He’s a really nice guy, he’s fitted in well. I don’t think he needs an arm around the shoulder as such, but he needs our full attention.”
“You can’t let him drift. He needs to know he is important and that he could be here. If he doesn’t feel important he doesn’t play his best.” “We knew when we took him we knew he was injured but this thigh strain, like anything when you’ve been out for a long time, you pick up these little injuries.”
“Because of Joey’s injury situation, may be we forced him back too early and I think we’re at fault a little bit because he’s picked up a thigh strain which is unfortunate for him.”
Ireland is one of five top players who are injured and doubtful for the game at Stoke City in 9 days time, and the others are Joey Barton ( thigh injury), Nile Ranger (shin injury), Jose Enrique (hamstring) and Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez has an ankle problem.
Of those five we would hope all but Jose Enrique and Stephen Ireland will make the game, but it looks like both Jose and Stephen will not make it.
Last night Everton got a home draw with Birmingham 1-1, and that was the best result for Newcastle as it keeps Birmingham 5 points behind Newcastle with a game in hand, and Everton only one point ahead of Newcastle, who now drop to 10th place after the Toffees played their game in hand.
Newcastle are two points off Sunderland in 8th place, and have a better goal difference over both teams directly above them – Everton and Sunderland.
We think Birmingham may be in trouble of the drop this season, even though they will be playing in the Europa Cup next season after winning the Carling Cup.