Despite having yet to make an appearance at the club, Aston Villa loanee Joey Barton has clearly done something to impress to Newcastle United as Alan Pardew has hinted he may bring the player to the club on a permanent basis in the summer.
Ireland left Manchester City last summer, and moved to Villa, but hardly featured under Gerard Houllier, and was shipped out to Newcastle on loan in the January window.
Ireland has not yet played as he is still recovering from a thigh injury, but has trained with his new teammates and appears close to a first team start.
Pardew feels there is still time for Ireland to make an impression and earn himself a regular move before the end of the season.
“He’s still got time to impress me because I still think there is a chance of something permanent here for Stephen,” said Pardew.
“Things at Villa aren’t going too well. I want to have a good look at him before he goes back.
“We haven’t got anything in place in terms of a deal, there wasn’t time.
“He is under a little bit of pressure because there aren’t many games left, but when you’ve got a player of Stephen’s character, I don’t think that is a bad thing.
“He is a player who has played on a big stage in the past, it’s not like he is coming from a team which isn’t high profile.”