| 11.1°C Dublin

Ireland to put in the hard yards for villa

STEPHEN Ireland has his sights on rebuilding his Aston Villa career under new manager Alex McLeish and becoming "an important player" for the Birmingham club.

The midfielder came to Villa last summer as part of the deal which saw James Milner head in the opposite direction to Manchester City.

But he was told by then manager Gerard Houllier to "work harder" and was eventually loaned out to Newcastle for the second half of the campaign.

Now Ireland just wants to be judged on his performances and to play a full part under McLeish, who has said the slate is "wiped clean" for every player.

"All pre-season I'm going to work really hard to try and get in the new gaffer's plans. Hopefully I can stay there," he said.

"Right now I'm in a good place. I've got a very good feeling about this year.

"I just want a good run really, I need that because I've not really had a good run in the last couple of seasons.

"I've just got to keep working hard to try and get my form and my sharpness back."

Irish Independent