In a somewhat surprising transfer deadline-day deal, Stoke boss Mark Hughes snapped up midfielder Stephen Ireland on a season-long loan from Aston Villa. The 27-year-old is the fifth new arrival at the Britannia this term and follows Erik Pieters, Marc Muniesa, Marko Arnautovic and Oussama Assaidi to the club as Hughes looks to restructure the Potters’ playing approach after succeeding Tony Pulis over the summer:

Speaking to the club’s official website, the Stoke Chief Executive Tony Scholes revealed the player’s previous performances under Hughes at the Etihad persuaded the Potters boss to acquire his services:

“Stephen is a player that Mark knows really well and when the opportunity arose he was keen to add him to his midfield and attacking options. Arguably the most successful period of Stephen’s career to date was when he played for Mark at Manchester City and we hope that he can rediscover that form.”

The History

A product of the Man City youth academy, Ireland joined the club at the age of 15 back in August 2001. The midfielder made his debut during the 2004/05 season but took his time to make an impact, producing a single goal and pair of assists across 47 appearances in his first couple of campaigns at the club.

After notching four goals and three assists in 33 appearances the following year, Ireland’s nine goals and nine assists in 35 league games across 2008/09 earned him City’s Player of the Year award under the guidance of Hughes but he failed to maintain his consistency. The Welshman’s dismissal in the early stages of the following season saw Ireland become a peripheral figure under Roberto Mancini and, after producing just two goals and a pair of assists, he was transferred to Aston Villa as part of the deal that took James Milner to the Etihad.

Ireland’s time in the midlands proved bitterly disappointing as his once-promising career began to fall apart. Over the next three years, he failed to convince a trio of managers and was handed a combined tally of 47 games by Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert, producing just a single goal and four assists.

The Prospects

With just a year left of his contract at Villa, Ireland’s switch to Stoke means he is now effectively playing for his future. Despite failing to feature this term so far, the midfielder insists he is fully match sharp and is desperate to make an impact at the Britannia:

“I’m fit and raring to go. I don’t want to be eased in and I don’t want to have to take my time; I just want to get straight in there as fast as I can. I want to participate in whatever way I can, whether that be for the full 90 minutes or whether it be coming off the bench for the final five minutes. Whatever time I get I will give it everything I have. It’s been a long time in the waiting for me so I want to get going and show everyone what I am capable of.”

To an extent, Ireland’s situation mirrors that of his manager. Hughes was also written off by many after a hugely unsuccessful stint at QPR led to his dismissal last term and the pair have plenty to prove this time out – the new Stoke manager’s tactics are steadily making an impact, however, and have now harvested three straight wins in all competitions after a narrow Gameweek 1 defeat at Liverpool.

As the Staffordshire outfit become more accustomed to their new manager’s possession-based approach, it’s clear we can no longer view them in the same way as we once did under Pulis. Hughes’ 4-4-1-1 formation could certainly favour Ireland and hand Fantasy managers an intriguing cut-price prospect if he can nail down his preferred role in “the hole” behind a lone forward, though it’s uncertain whether he’ll be immediately handed a starting berth.

Indeed, much depends on where fellow new boy Marko Arnautovic ends up. If the six foot three Austrian – classified as a midfielder across the Fantasy games – is utilised as a lone forward, then he looks the one to consider, though a shift to the right flank would likely see Jon Walters moved into the middle, thus denting Ireland’s prospects.

Coming in at a mere 4.8 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and 4.4 in the Sky Sports game, his lack of impact over the past few seasons means Ireland is particularly budget friendly. Fantasy managers will be understandably sceptical but if Hughes can help reignite the potential that saw him shine at the Etihad, we may have an unlikely cut-price contender on our hands.

Further Reference

Stephen Ireland Wikipedia

Stephen Ireland Transfer Markt Page

About The Author


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  1. Pepin! I don't do RMT's on FFS but what about this?


    Mignolet, Rudd
    Zab, Coleman, Vidic , Ward, Chester
    Theo, Coutinho, Lamela, Hernandez, Brady
    Studge, Giroud, Benteke

    Bank: 0.4m

    Lamela & Studge could be out. I reckon Studge will play so just Lamela > Eriksen?

    1. I stopped reading at Coleman

        1. Cuz he's a terrible pick and will flop in the next 4

          1. In fact, i just shipped him for Vidic

            1. Injury Heaven ...

            2. Strange to bin a player while he's still by far the most transferred in defender and price yet to peak..

        2. He's got a thing about him... best not go there.

    2. Laaverly. Prefer Erikson over Lamela for now I think but I guess it's a personal choice...

      1. Just saw you suggested the very same :oops:

        Must just be too used to skim reading RMTs at this stage!

    3. nice team vets..loads of scope

      1. Thank you Optimus... plans in place for the arrival of Suarez....

    4. That midfield is well dodgy.

      1. Care to expand Doos?

        1. Theo - A1, Coutinho - C3, Lamela - E3, Hernandez - WTF?, Brady - A1

          1. Righty. you know how to speak English, please do so!

            1. OK. I think that all of your picks, apart from Theo and Brady, are well crap.

              1. Hmmm... thanks Doos, will look at how they perform and come back to this as your dark arts interest me, but not enough to ruin my team at the mo! :)

                  1. That's black arts to me! :)

                    1. It says: No Coutinho! :-P

                      1. Oh.

          2. Couldn't agree more about Lamela. Aaron Lennon reborn

    5. Is this a WC or what? You have 1 FT?

      1. We play it hard and fast, feck the free ft :)

    6. A.

      I like it all apart from Ward. Quite close to my ideal WC i'd say

      Consider Lewis as the 4.0 in goal in case of Marshall aggravating his injury

      Is Lamela definitely out?

      1. Who else apart from Ward, Archie?

        I'm happy with Rudd at the mo... zero thought make me a happy man :)

        1. A.

          Cardiff's Turner for 4.0 instead?

          1. Cheers Archie, another one to look at even though I'd discarded.

    7. Nice, I like it.

      1. Thanks CS, that means it needs changes ;)

  2. Oh you sneaky bar stewards...

      1. Always a pleasure!:D

    1. Thoughts?

      Leaning towards Giroud over Studge for the third striker spot, other forwards are Benteke & RVP, anyone massively concerned about such a move?? The excess cash would just be banked, not really planning to do anything with it for now

  3. SW6

    Kagawa out for tomorrow and Rooney could play.

    With Rooney's type of injury I guess it's a start the game or not play at all scenario. Worth taking the risk on him do you think, considering I think I want him long term? Should have a decent bench in case he doesn't play.

    1. You're pissing in the wind, feller.

      1. SW6

        :D You're probably right. I'm just thinking it could be a slaughter tomorrow and want to be involved somehow without getting RVP.

    2. I think you need to expect him not to play. No point in risking him at all.

  4. Okay, I'm really not sure about this team. It costs -4, and I get to keep my WC.

    Migs (4.0)

    Clyne, Chester, Cole (Collins, Turner)

    Coutinho, HBA, Walcott, Brady, Kim

    RvP (c), Soldado (Bent)

    Enough in the bank for Bent > Lukaku next week.

    Decent enough?

    1. Yes it should be ok - you'll have to hope Clyne has won his place in the team again though... Could still be Chambers...

  5. Lost on last page....

    Ok....good to go or more tinkering required?

    Boruc (mig)
    Ivan evra Chester (turner) (Coleman)
    Ozil coutinho Brady hba (Hernandez)
    Giroud Sturridge soldado

    I am on a wc so it would be much appreciated

    1. Ivan out, RVP in. :-P

      Also, I think Coutinho is a bum shout.

      1. You stay out of my balanced team ;) which of the three strikers would you dump in that scenario?

          1. I did try.....

            Evra to vidic
            Giroud to rvp
            Ozil to wallcot
            Coutinho to lams

            And I still only have 3.1 to replace Ivan :/

            1. Mignolet is your problem.

              Also, I don't think that we should be spending so much on midfield. Just my opinion.

              Therefore, Coutinho is a no-no.

              Look at Charlie Adams if you are on wild card.

              1. I fear you maybe right :/

                1. Couple of cheap goalies 'til Xmas?

    2. ozil is ill,apart from that i like it

      1. Is he? I must have missed that!!!

          1. How reliable is that site?!?!

  6. About to confirm Silva :arrow: HBA and Dzeko :arrow: Benteke (2FTs)

    Any last words?

    1. SW6

      I'm still not convinced by HBA yet but there aren't really any better options in that price range

      1. I could just go with Brady altogether and use the cash elsewhere but I'm not sure who I'd even upgrade with it tbh.

        1. SW6

          May as well stick with HBA then. All midfielders have started so slowly, just need a few to get going and it will make things interesting.

  7. Feel free to copy this FPL Gold


    Cole Vidic Shaw Chester

    Michu Walcott Brady

    RVP(C) Benteke Soldado

    Bench: some 4m guy, Collins, Whittingham, JWP

    Just did Giroud Coleman and Zab > RVP Cole Vidic.

    1. Not today. Thank you. :-D

    2. Why would I copy that?

      1. Same reason you want to finisih top 100

        1. I don't want to finish top 100, I want to win.

  8. Is Lamela definitely not going to start?

    1. No it is not a definate no but AVB said he was back late from international duties and had not trained much with the squad yet ?

      1. Screw it I'm going with my gut and buying him. I want him for the long term anyway and Whittingham is adequate enough cover for this GW if he doesn't play.

        1. I actually think I'm going with Lamela & Studge...

    2. no..smokescreen

  9. Is Dawson likely to start the next few weeks does anyone know or will Kaboul or Chic get the nod?

    1. I think he will inevitably be rotated over the course of the season.

    2. I think its inevitable that he'll lose it eventually. Might squeeze a few gws out of him until Chir's permit is sorted out or Kaboul is fit enough, but I wouldnt be bringing him in.

    3. A.

      Chiriches can't play as he hasn't yet got a work permit it seems

      Dawson is in the driving seat, but could get dropped for Kaboul

  10. Hi chaps - I'm stuck between choosing

    A) Vidic & Ivanovic

    B) Evra & Terry

    Rest of my team (in my WC):

    Mig / Lewis
    Coleman / Lovren / .... / .... / Chester
    Walcott / Lamps / Coutinho / Brady / Ward-Prowse
    Benteke / Giroud / Soldado

    0.7m in bank
    Many thanks!

    1. Lovren ----> Mertesacker next week...

      1. Why not get Koscielny instead and save a transfer next week.

        1. Yes could do that... Not sure if they'll get a clean sheet vs Sunderland away and would prefer Mert long-term so would still end up using that transfer I think...

    2. SW6

      Can I be annoying and say Evra and Walker?

      1. You can - I have toyed with putting Walker in... Do fm you not fancy Chelsea to pick up a clean sheet against blunt Everton attack?

        1. SW6

          They could do, but Walker has great fixtures too and Spurs have looked tight so far this season

          1. Ok cheers - I'll think more seriously about that then...

  11. Mignolet - Marshall
    Toure - Coleman - Turner - Ivanovic - Collins
    Walcott - Silva - Coutinho - Mirallas - Ravel
    Dzeko - Soldado - Lambert

    Silva to who have £9.4M

    1. Hit or free transfer?

      Hazard or Lamps would be good shouts...

      1. FT

  12. Soldado or Benteke (c)?

    Newc have been solid since the City game.

    1. Fixtures or form? Tekkers for me.

    2. Benteke is as fixture proof as they come.

      Also, I don't feel right captaining a Spurs player yet. Not in gear, and a few new faces.

    3. SW6

      I don't think they've been solid. They've played two team who are terrible away from home. Benteke for me.

    4. Out of those two I'd pick Benteke but I'd pick Walcott as my captain if I had your team because Sunderland are dreadful.

      1. Really? Interesting. I think I'd (c) him if I knew Ozil would be playing.

      2. I'm leaning that way too.

    5. Doubt Newcastle will stop Benteke at home... Benteke (C) for me... Soldado (V) ...

  13. Help!

    Walcott or Benteke (c)?

    1. Tough one - I've got Wally and Giroud and am going for (c) Wally now he's confirmed fit; just a gut feeling

  14. A.

    Hey vets, been meaning to catch you and give you my ideal lineup from our TWS

    Marcelo, Lescott, Pepe, Johnson
    Mascherano, Illarramendi
    Sanchez, Hamsik, Ribery

    Bench: Viviano, Jovetic, Mkhitaryan, Guarin

    Definitely arguments for Jovetic and Mickey to be playing, but I reckon this has a crack at winning the TWS imaginary league

    1. I'm keeping quite on this one but post it up there.... I have doubts about he-man on the bench though!

      1. A.

        Yeah, it's hard to call, and does use all put defenders, but it's a very realistic formation with a proper back 4, no one playing out of position, two solid DMs and plenty of flair up front.
        Mickey could come in for Hamsik or Sanchez though.

        I'll stick this up and in an email

  15. Thoughts?

    Koscielny, Jose Enrique, Chester
    Brady, Walcott(v), Ben Arfa, Hazard/Lamela
    RVP(c), Benteke, Giroud

    Subs: Lewis, Whittingham, Burner, Ward

    1. I wouldn't do a double on Liv def.

      1. Who is the best £6m defender in your opinion?

        1. A.

          Vidic, Enrique, Zabaleta (was), Mertesacker, Walker are the best 6m defenders IMO.

          1. Always wanted to buy Zabaleta but could never seem to afford him but I can now. Thanks for the recommendation as I completely forgot about him.

            1. A.

              I think Zab is the best £6m defender around tbh, great city cover, they seem almost as tight this year

              1. Agreed. He plays more like a wing back than a full back as well so attacking points are likely as well.

  16. I know this is your hideout and I will go away after this post, just want to know what you think of my wildcard team, any changes needed? :D

    Mignolet Lewis

    Vidic Coleman Collins Fonte Chester

    Walcott Lampard HBA Brady Redmond

    RVP Benteke Sturridge

    1. Nicely balanced for an RvP team.

      I'm not convinced on Lamps, but it looks good.

  17. Learned a lesson this week about obsessing with prices - did Nolan > Hernandez midweek as the latter was rising, even though I knew Silva and Walcott were doubtful. Luckily Wally came through, but now stuck with Silva unless I take a hit!

  18. I's off! All the best, guys - may your captain choices be lucky ones! :-D

    1. Best of luck!!

    2. Night Doos. Sleep well... I won't be long behind you.

      Stop sniggering at the back!

  19. 20.2m to spend on a striker and a mid.

    I have to get RvP, really, don't I?

    1. Yep....that's what I have decided too....tough or what!

      1. I was going to get in Benteke and Ozil ... but with Ozil unwell and no other big mids screaming out at me (I have Walcott and Couts), it seems the only option.

  20. A.

    Any members, try sticking Pablo Hernandez in the comparison tool.

    He compares very favourably to the likes of Nolan, Ben Arfa, Nani, etc and even to Coutinho and Michu

    That's settled my decision, Silva to Hernandez it is

    1. Good choice!

    2. I have him but do not trust RMT in any way. It's one man's data against your skill... feck that!

      Give me one good reason why you should trust RMT?

      1. A.

        I'm using the tool to back up my gut feeling that Pablo is a good pick

        If the data didn't fit my conclusions I'd grumble about it being a crap tool, but as it confirms what I think (know) I like it ;)

        1. Heh... same here, and i have Pablo too.

          Seriously, it's shite and only used by us idiotic, clueless, twats as we don't know what we're doing and have no ability to think for ourselves. Even as a comfort it's flawed as it it's simply crap... so why?

          On that note, my coach seems to have turned into a pumpkin, so I'm off to bed.

          All the best for the current gw!


          1. A.

            Cheers, you too, night

  21. Rate my risky team

    Mcgregor boruc
    Coleman vidic turner Chester moxey
    Lamps Walcott hba Hernandez Brady
    Rvp soldado Sturridge

    1. Much better. Imo.

      1. It's sorta tough to spend that much on one player, but I guess it's easier to down scale rather than upscale....guess I better captain him ;)

        Cheers for your help man

    2. Apart from the keepers, I could live with that.

      1. Yeah....I kinda feel uneasy with that combo, hopefully they will rotate well.

  22. Mignolet - Marshall
    Toure - Coleman - Turner - Ivanovic - Collins
    Walcott - Silva - Coutinho - Mirallas - Ravel
    Dzeko - Soldado - Lambert

    Silva to who, max of £9.4M?

    1. Hazard. Or you could go Hernandez and use the cash to upgrade Dzeko or Lambert next GW.

  23. Used my FT midweek for Nolan > Hernandez before Silva confirmed out (I know, I know!)

    Do I need to take a hit to deal with Silva (and perhaps Studge), or are this lot passable?

    Jussi (Marshall)
    Ivanovic, Shaw, Chester (Reid, Ward)
    Hazard, Wally (c), Hernandez, Kim (Silva)
    Lambert, Giroud, Studge

    1. you're fine Sturridge will start

  24. 8 point hit going once.........................................

    1. going twice..............................................

  25. SOLD to your wife at the back!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Mignolet - Marshall
    Toure - Coleman - Turner - Ivanovic - Collins
    Walcott - Silva - Coutinho - Mirallas - Ravel
    Dzeko - Soldado - Lambert

    Help need to replace Silva, 1 FT £9.4M?

    1. HBA or Brady so you can easily upgrade Dzeko on your next free transfer.

  27. Coutinho dropping tonight? Compaired to Fiso he is but Total Fpl have him at 60%. Would like to finalise my team tonight so I don't have to wake early to make the change. But I will do it if he has a chance of falling. Can anyone help me?

    1. Not falling imo. TFPL is better so far.

      1. 100% sure?

From the Community…

Fixture Ticker

“My team this year has been the Fantasy Premier League equivalent of a Morecambe & Wise sketch. I've played all the right players . . . but not necessarily in the right order.”

Fantacity on his 2013/14 season