Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland is targeting a regular run in the side next season, and is hoping to impress new boss Alex McLeish during pre-season after failing to secure a regular spot within the side under Gerard Houllier last term.

The former Republic of Ireland international spent the second half of last term on loan at Newcastle United, but has returned to Villa Park for pre-season training and is planning to make an impact under new management at the club.

"I'll give my all for the cause. You have to start with a fresh new slate now. It didn't go off with a bang like I wanted it to when I first signed here. I just want to be given the opportunity to play," Ireland told the official Aston Villa website.

"Last year I felt in training I had done enough to get that chance to play but it didn't happen for me for whatever reason. I want to play as often as I can and that is why you do pre-season - to stamp your name on the teamsheet as early as you can and then maintain it all season.

"There is a lot I want to give for the team and the cause and I am hoping I get a fair shot."

 

The decision will rest with former Birmingham boss McLeish, who took over as manager from Houllier after the Frenchman was forced to give up his post through illness. Ireland is hoping that he gets the opportunity to impress the Villains faithful this season under the Scot.

"The only way of me building up a better relationship with the fans is by playing, regardless of what's said in the press. You do the talking on the field and that's exactly what I want to do," he continued.

"The fans are brilliant and all I ever wanted was to play in front of them but I haven't been given those opportunities. Summer has gone and pre-season is here and we just need to move on with the new manager and new staff."

The former Manchester City midfielder also found time to pay tribute to striker Darren Bent, who made a telling impact on his arrival in the Midlands back in January. The praise was based more around shirt numbers than form though, but Ireland is confident Bent will be able to handle the pressure of taking the club's famous number nine shirt.

"I've always worn the no.7 since I was a young boy and it's the number I love. It kind of is a superstitious thing," he continued.

"The no.9 probably comes with a bit more pressure but I'm sure Darren can handle that and score the goals and hopefully I can do what a number seven should and set him up for a few of them."

Topics:
#Internationals
#Stephen Ireland
#Premier League
#Aston Villa
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