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Over 600 days since his last appearance, Stephen Ireland returns to Stoke's bench

The Irish midfielder has been out of action for a considerable period after suffering a broken leg in training.

Stephen Ireland (file pic).
Stephen Ireland (file pic).
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

STEPHEN IRELAND HAS made Stoke’s bench for the first time since breaking his leg in training at the end of the 2015-16 Premier League season.

The Irish midfielder last appeared in the Premier League off the bench in his side’s 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace on 7 May 2016 — 604 days ago.

Before picking up the injury, Ireland struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular at Stoke, with the player invariably used as an impact substitute since joining the club in an initial loan deal in September 2013.

The 31-year-old will be hoping to boost Mark Hughes’ side, who host Newcastle today, with the Potters currently 15th in the table, just two points off the relegation zone.

Ireland recently signed a contract extension at Stoke that runs until the end of the season, with the player set to be given a chance to prove he deserves to be retained by the club on a long-term basis.

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Paul Fennessy

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