Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland has reportedly agreed a new short-term contract with the Potters and apparently has manager Mark Hughes to thank after the boss persuaded the club's board to extend the injury-plagued star's deal.
Ireland had signed a six-month contract in July. That is due to expire on 31st December, but the Daily Telegraph has reported that Hughes has personally convinced the Potters hierarchy to give the player another six months until the end of the season.
The newspaper notes that the former Republic of Ireland international Ireland is likely to be on reduced wages, but staying on could given him the chance he needs to return to the pitch.
Ireland hasn't played since breaking his leg in a game against Crystal Palace in May 2016. That was just his 16th appearance of the season, while injuries had limited him to just 20 appearances in all competitions in the 2014/15 campaign as well.
Hughes, who previously enjoyed a good relationship with Ireland during his time at Manchester City, described the 31-year-old as being 'close to a full return' when speaking in mid-October.
"Stephen has got a little bit down on himself because he's working so hard and he's desperate to get back to playing," the Stoke boss explained at the time.
"He's just got to remain positive and he's got a lot of support around him and is a good guy."
According to the Telegraph, Ireland is 'stepping up his recovery' and the FA Cup third round tie with Coventry in January is a target to make his long awaited comeback.