Ireland happy to be 'treated normally' again at Newcastle

Stephen Ireland is desperate to repay Newcastle United's faith in him after belatedly making his debut.

The 24-year-old Irish midfielder has been a frustrated bystander for much of the past two and a half months after arriving from Aston Villa on loan in January with a knee injury and then picking up a thigh strain as he neared full fitness.

In all, he sat out the first nine games of his temporary spell on Tyneside, after last playing senior football on 6 December.

He finally got his chance in a black-and-white shirt 69 minutes into the club's hard-fought 0-0 draw with leaders Manchester United on Tuesday night, and is now determined to make up for lost time over the remaining five games of the Premier League campaign.

Ireland joined Villa in an £8m summer move from Manchester City after falling out of favour with their manager, Roberto Mancini, but failed to make his mark under Gérard Houllier in the Midlands.

However, he is delighted to have the chance to impress the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, who has challenged him to prove that he could have a long-term future at St James' Park. Ireland said: "It's been really frustrating for me. I have not really had a manager who has wanted me to play and I have felt like an outcast for a while. It's nice to be treated normally for once. I haven't had that in a while.

"I have come here now and even through my injuries they kept telling me, 'Listen, it's not a problem, just get yourself right.' The loyalty they have shown me, I am going to repay that as much as I can.

"It's been really frustrating, but it's all behind me now, thank God, and it's finally here. It's finally come around that I can play and I just want to finish the season strongly and try to benefit the team in whatever way I can."

Ireland's big moment came to popular acclaim from the home fans as a tight encounter reached crunch point with both sides going for victory. Newcastle had started brightly with Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi and Jonas Gutierrez going close, although goalkeeper Tim Krul, deputising for the injured Steve Harper, had to make fine saves from Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney before the break.

However, United stepped up a gear after the restart and, although Lovenkrands had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee Lee Probert, the visitors threatened to claim all three points through Nani, Rooney and Ryan Giggs, who uncharacteristically passed up a glorious opportunity seconds before Ireland came on.

The Newcastle midfielder might have announced himself in style within minutes of his arrival with a quickly taken volley that flew just past the post, with goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar momentarily wrong-footed.

Ireland said: "I had time to take it down, but I think when I took it first time, I caught the keeper off guard. It was one of those – they either fly in the top corner or not and, unfortunately, it just didn't."

Rooney headed wide at the death after Hernandez had been booked for diving as Newcastle's stubborn defensive performance proved up to the task and secured them a 40th point of the campaign – not yet enough to guarantee their place in next season's top flight, but a significant landmark as they head for free-falling Blackpool at the weekend.

For the Dutchman Krul, there was a clean sheet and a creditable result to celebrate on his return to the starting XI after a 16-game run earlier in the season. However, he left St James' Park with more tangible mementos of his encounter with United and one of his childhood heroes, his compatriot Van der Sar.

Krul said: "It was amazing, just one of those things. I have been following him since I was five years old. He gave me his gloves and his shirt, so that will be a fantastic memory."



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot