Stephen Ireland says he is keen to start playing regular football again after signing for Bolton Wanderers earlier this week following his release from Stoke.
The 32-year-old has joined the Trotters on a short-term deal after being released by Stoke in June. This followed their relegation from the Premier League in May, returning them to Championship football for the first time in ten years.
Speaking to the Bolton News, Ireland said: “It’s all a bit new. New club, new style of play, new teams to play against, new stadia, but I’m completely open-minded and looking forward to the whole experience.”
Ireland spent five years at Stoke after a loan deal from Aston Villa in 2013 was made permanent. He made 97 appearances in all competition for the Potters, and was a regular for years.
However, a broken leg in 2016 meant he was sidelined for almost two years, which proved to be a huge blow for him as he made only five appearances during the whole of last season.
He added: “At this point in my career and with everything that has happened I just want to play. I want to play loads and loads of football. I want the feeling of walking off the pitch and being sat in the dressing room with your legs throbbing.
“When you’ve been through a bad leg break like I had, it does change you. It gives you a different perspective on what is important to you, what really matters.”
He has 13 years of Premier League experience in a career that has seen him play for Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Stoke. However, this will be the first time in his career that he will not be playing Premier League football.
Ireland wants to prove that he can still play, saying: “Now I’m here at Bolton wanting to show myself, never mind anyone else, that I can still cut it and what I am still capable of doing.”
Bolton currently sit 16th in the Championship table, four points from the play-offs. They narrowly avoided relegation last season, when a dramatic final day win over Nottingham Forest saw the Trotters survive by two points.