Stoke City loanee Steven Ireland has suggested it is unlikely he will return to parent club Aston Villa.
The former Manchester City man is entering the final year of his Villa contract and admits he will more than likely leave Paul Lambert's side at the end of the season.
"I would think so, although I am still officially contracted to them," said the 27-year-old.
Ireland joined Villa in 2010 after being edged-out at City during the Abu-Dhabi revolution, even though he was their Player of the Season in the 2008/9 season.
It's no surprise the midfielder wanted a move. He was loaned to Newcastle United during his first season at Villa Park, making just two appearances on Tyneside. In the following two seasons at the club, he made just 45 appearances after struggling with injury before being loaned to the Potteries.
The former Ireland international admits it's extremely likely he will become a permanent Stoke player if all goes well during the loan spell.
"If I do well at Stoke and they want me at the end of the loan spell - and as I will be out of contract - I think that, yes, my Villa career is effectively over," he added.
Ireland may have found his time at Villa frustrating but he bears not grudges towards Lambert.
"I appreciate though that football is all about opinions and money, so sometimes clubs and managers change the way they are going and sometimes you are deemed surplus to requirements.
"So although it was extremely frustrating as I had been the fans' player of the year under Alex McLeish, it never quite worked out for me under Paul Lambert even though I believed I had a great deal to offer the team," he concluded.
Mark Hughes' side welcome his, and Ireland's, former employers Manchester City on Saturday.
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