Stephen Ireland is looking to salvage his Aston Villa career under new manager Alex McLeish, and has set his sights on a starting place in the side’s Premier League opener against Fulham at Craven Cottage on August 13th.
The former Manchester City midfielder has had a frustrating time since leaving Eastlands in 2010, firstly struggling to hold down a first team place at Villa Park, and then being farmed out to Newcastle on loan. Now fully fit, the 24-year-old is hoping for better fortunes in 2011/12.
“All pre-season I’m going to work really hard to try and get in the new gaffer’s plans. Hopefully I can stay there. I had a brief chat with him and he seemed really nice and determined and it seems as if he’s going to be a good manager for the players and the club going forward,” the Irishman stated in The Daily Telegraph.
“Right now I’m in a good place. I’m feeling really good and really determined. I’ve got a very good feeling about this year, not just for myself but the team and the fans and I want to do well for them.
“I set goals for myself. Obviously I want to build up a good relationship with the fans. I want to try and get in the team and play the best that I can. I just want a good run really; I need that because I’ve not really had a good run in the last couple of seasons. It’s a shame but I can’t let that bother me.
“I’ve just got to keep working hard to try and get my form and my sharpness back. It might take four or five games at the start of the season to get that back, but hopefully as soon as I do I can look forward and not look back,” he concluded.
With the sale of Ashley Young to Manchester United, and Stewart Downing in Liverpool sights, first team opportunities in the Birmingham outfit’s midfield may be up for grabs.