| 14.6°C Dublin

Stephen Ireland eager for run in Stoke side

STEPHEN Ireland wants to win back his place in the Stoke City side after winning his fitness battle.

The 28-year-old made only his third appearance of the season in Monday's Premier League win over Newcastle United after a rib injury sidelined him early on but he feels his injury problems are behind him.

"The rib's good. I'm pretty much fully recovered now so I'm just trying to get myself back in the team now," says Ireland.

"It's been frustrating because I had a great pre-season and I was really excited going into the season.

"I've had a three-week set-back which isn't good, especially for a player like me who thrives off playing week-in, week-out. I just have to get myself back because it's a long old season."

Stoke are just outside the top half of the Premier League table but Cork native Ireland feels they could do better.

He said: "We didn't like losing to Leicester or drawing with QPR and that's been frustrating for us. If we had won those two we'd be in a great position but we are going to get hiccups along the way. Let's hope they are just hiccups and we can kick on from here."

Meanwhile, Jonathan Walters remains an injury concerns for Ireland ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Walters has missed Stoke's last two games with a calf injury and he did not even make the bench for Monday's win over Newcastle.

The 31-year-old still hopes to be fit for the Gibraltar/Germany double-header but needs to prove his fitness in Saturday's game away to Sunderland.