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Ireland: Let me be myself

STEPHEN Ireland has aimed a backward swipe at ex-Manchester City boss Mark Hughes and blamed the Welshman for his patchy form this season.

In an interview on the English FA’s website, Ireland also talks about the fact that City fans see him as “one of their own” and how he has worked hard to build a relationship with the supporters.

“The last six months under Mark Hughes was very frustrating for me,” he said. “I was being played out of position - maybe as a holding midfielder, left wing, right wing. It is not me.

“You have to adjust and think ‘I have to do it' but if you want the best out of me, you have to play me in my best position. Then I can be myself because the chains are off.”

Ireland’s well-publicised falling out with everyone and everything to do with the Republic of Ireland senior team ended any chance he had of inspiring hero worship in his own country but he’s filled in the gap by concentrating on the Eastlands faithful.

“I have really worked hard to build up my relationship with the fans,” he said. “Even when I was doing a signing session a few months ago I ended up staying for over three hours.

“It comes naturally to me. Even though I came over from Ireland, the fans still regard me as one of them. I am very grateful for that.”

The Corkman clearly believes that Roberto Mancini has taken to the City job like a duck to water and that this Italian is one he can work with.

“It is difficult for anyone to come into a club, turn it round www.herald.ie and get it going their way,” said Ireland. “The manager is doing different things but he has done a really positive job.”

Meanwhile another Irish fan favourite, Sepp Blatter, has stepped into the John Terry debate – and put his foot in it once again.

“This is a special approach in the Anglo-Saxon countries. If this had happened in Latin countries then I think he would have been applauded,” said Blatter.

Terry has been given time off by Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti to address issues in his personal life and will miss his side's FA Cup tie against Cardiff this weekend.