There have been a lot of issues surrounding the future of Stephen Ireland playing international football for the Republic of Ireland. After falling out with several managers due to off the field incidents, he has retired from international duty. Now, the nation has appointed Martin O’Neill as the manager of the national team. Ireland is known to get along well with O’Neill since he was the man who brought him out of Manchester City to Aston Villa. As a result, there has been speculation that Ireland maybe persuaded out of international retirement.

His club manager Mark Hughes, though, feels that it is still too soon for the midfielder to think about international football. He says that he should focus on being a consistent player at club level. Ireland has been having an excellent season for Stoke after coming to the club on a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa. Since his contract with the Midlands club is about to expire at the end of the season, he is widely tipped to stay at the Britannia stadium beyond this campaign as well. He has become a fan favourite after scoring one goal in eight appearances for the club.

“Stephen’s doing OK but he’s is not quite at the level that he was at two or three years ago. In terms of international football I think it is too soon, to be perfectly honest. I think he just needs to concentrate on getting back on track in terms of playing football week in, week out. It’s great for Jon [to captain Ireland] and he’s having a great time of it at the moment,” said Hughes about Ireland and John Walters.

Hughes thinks that Ireland can play much better given the talent at his disposal. Stoke City are undefeated in the last four matches.