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

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