Rather play in pain than see Villa struggle
STEPHEN IRELAND insists he’s ready to play through the pain to help Aston Villa fight back from a nightmare start to the season.
Ireland cracked a bone in his wrist in last month’s defeat to Southampton and missed the next three matches.
Although the bone remains broken, the midfielder returned to face Fulham at the weekend – but had to wear a cast.
Ireland has had runins with previous Villa bosses Gerard Houllier, who sent him out on loan, and Alex McLeish, who rapped him for posing with a shisha pipe last year.
But the Irishman insists he is willing to do ANYTHING to get back in Paul Lambert’s team.
He said: “The medical experts said the recovery would be six weeks, but after threeand-a-half I could play with a temporary cast, so I’m doing that at the moment.
“It’s still broken and I still feel a lot of pain with it, but it’s enough so that I can play.
“I don’t want to be out any longer so I’m happy to do that, even if it is a bit uncomfortable.
“I’d rather play through the pain than not play at all, because I really want to be in the team as much as I can this year.”
Ireland was the Villa supporters’ player of the year last season – and he revealed he aims to play EVERY remaining minute this term.
“I’m back now and I think if I can get a run then it’s my shirt to lose,” he said.
“I’m trying to play every minute of every game from now on – that’s my goal for this year.
“I think now I have got myself in, I’ll make sure I stay in the team.”
Lambert insists there are no hard feelings between himself and former club Norwich as the two clubs prepare to go head to head this weekend.
Lambert goes up against the Canaries for the first time since his controversial summer exit as he tries to halt Villa’s worst start to a league campaign in 26 years.
The Scot this week made his anger clear after his former chairman, Alan Bowkett, revealed the details of Lambert’s decision to sue Norwich for £2million for breach of contract.
Lambert’s old club are suing him for breach of contract, prompting him to launch a claim against them following his exit from Carrow Road in June.
The hearings aren’t expected to be concluded until the end of the season.
But Lambert doesn’t want to fan the flames ahead of Saturday’s potentially stormy meeting at Villa Park.
He insisted: “I have no animosity whatsoever towards Norwich. I want to win every game and this one will be no different.
“I have huge gratitude towards Norwich City. I had a great time there and things went the way they did, but I have no animosity towards anyone there.
“This is a game we’re going to try to win. I know the Norwich lads as well as anyone, but we have to win the game because we’re at home.”
SUING ME, SUING YOU: But Lambert has no bad feelings towards Norwich chairman Alan Bowkett