Stephen Ireland seeks long-term Aston Villa stay
STEPHEN Ireland has set his sights on earning a new contract at Aston Villa after claiming to being rejuvenated since the arrival of Paul Lambert as manager.
The midfielder still has two years remaining of the deal he signed when he moved from Manchester City during the summer of 2010. But Ireland is keen to impress Lambert during the current campaign and secure his long-term future at Villa Park, and is relishing being part of a diamond formation.
Ireland, who set up Villa's opening two goals in their midweek 3-0 Capital One Cup triumph over Tranmere, said: "I am enjoying playing under Paul Lambert, absolutely. He is a really good guy and fair and honest. He definitely knows what he is doing and talking about and he has been really impressive to me and I'm hoping I can play under him for as long as possible."
He went on: "At the end of this season I will have 12 months left on my contract so I'm hoping I can earn a new contract here and prove myself to him with a good consistent run of form.
"That is one of my goals this season. I want to play as consistently as I can and I'm hoping with that we can have talks and I can extend my contract. But I've got to let my football do the talking and it's up to the chairman [Randy Lerner] and the manager."
Ireland is hoping he can solve Villa's shortage of goals - one in the opening two Barclays Premier League games - by linking up effectively with striker Darren Bent.
He said: "Last season I was in many different positions and I wasn't able to get into the final third as much as I would have liked.
"It was completely understandable with the way the squad was and injuries and Darren also got injured which didn't help.
"But I feel my job in in the team now is to create as many chances as I can for him because nine out of 10 he is going to finish. He is a world-class striker and his finishing is unbelievable. If I can create chances for him, I know he is going to score.
"Every time I got the ball against Tranmere, I was looking for him because his movement is brilliant and it was the same with Andreas [Weimann]."
Meanwhile, manager Lambert hopes to bring in two new strikers before the transfer window shuts tomorrow.
Lambert bolstered his defence yesterday with the capture of Middlesbrough left-back Joe Bennett - the fifth signing of the summer.
But he is now looking to add firepower to supplement fit-again Darren Bent and the currently-injured Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Villa have increased their bid to sign Genk forward Christian Benteke to around £5.5 million after their initial offer was rejected.
The midlands club are hoping to hear today whether they have been finally successful in their attempt to land the Belgium international.
Benteke has made it clear he wants to fulfil his dream of playing in the Barclays Premier League although reports he had gone on strike were unfounded.
But Lambert is also looking long term and believed to be keen on Chesterfield's 21-year-old striker Jordan Bowery.
Bowery has two years remaining of his current contract.
He made his debut for Chesterfield four years ago and has made more than 80 appearances for the club.
Charlton midfielder Dale Stephens is also on Lambert's radar.