Stoke boss Hughes eyes permanent Ireland deal

The former Ireland international is currently on loan at the Britannia Stadium from Aston Villa and the Potters boss confirmed talks are underway regarding a long-term stay
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has confirmed his intention to sign Stephen Ireland on a permanent deal in the January transfer window.

Ireland has impressed since joining the club on loan from Aston Villa in September, contributing three goals in 15 games, and Hughes is keen to sign the midfielder on a long-term deal - revealing that talks are already under way.

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Speaking at Stoke's Clayton Wood training complex on Friday afternoon Hughes explained that he had been in discussions with the Cobh native's representatives.

"We are trying to do something with Stephen if we can," the Potters boss told reporters.

"We have had discussions with his people and I spoke to Stephen myself. I do think there is a willingness on both sides to get something done but nothing has been agreed formally yet."

However, the former Fulham and Manchester City manager was quick to dismiss speculation linking his side with a move for West Brom striker Shane Long, although he did admit that he is desperate to bring in a striker if possible.

"We're trying to get more quality into the final third and to add to quality strikers we've got," admitted Hughes.

"There are a lot of rumours but until we can confirm definitely that there is someone coming in with a Stoke City shirt on I don't like to comment on individuals at other clubs."

The former Wales boss also dismissed rumours linking Irish defender Marc Wilson with a move away from the club, insisting that the club had not been contacted regarding the Antrim native's availability.