Hughes expects Ireland return

Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland will be back in starting eleven for the Citizens in the near future according to manager Mark Hughes.

The 23-year-old has not started a league game since late September, having been taken ill during a Carling Cup clash with Fulham.

However, Hughes expects Ireland to force his way back into his side sooner rather than later.

He commented:"We've changed the shape of the team. For the majority of the season last year we played 4-3-3, but we have changed to a 4-4-2 more often than not this year.

"Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry became a pair when Stephen went out of the team, did well, so Stephen has found it a little difficult to get back in.

"It's not really a reflection on how he is playing because he is doing exceptionally well in training games, or whatever.

"So on a daily basis he is getting back to where he knows he is comfortable with and he is a great option for us.

"It's about him being patient and biding his time and he will get opportunities, he knows that. He is too good a player to keep out of the team for too long."

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