Stoke make Stephen Ireland deal permanent

Move allows Potters secure striker John Guidetti on loan, Liam Lawrence leaves PAOK

 Stoke have announced the permanent signing of Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Stoke have announced the permanent signing of Stephen Ireland from Aston Villa. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 16:28

Stephen Ireland has completed a permanent move from Aston Villa to Stoke City, having spent the first half of the season on loan at the Britannia Stadium.

The Corkman was on loan until the end of the season but this move allowed “the Potters scope to move into the loan market again”. They wasted little time in doing so, bringing in Swedish striker John Guidetti from Manchester City on a temporary deal.

“Stephen is a talented footballer and has shown what he’s capable of since he joined us,” said Stoke manager Mark Hughes today. “We’re delighted to have made his switch a permanent arrangement as it also gives us the opportunity to bring in another player on loan if necessary.”

Ireland has made 16 appearances for the Potters this season, scoring three goals.

Former Stoke City player Liam Lawrence looks set to join Barnsley on a six-month deal after his contract was terminated by PAOK Salonika today.

The midfielder has impressed while training with Barnsley over recent weeks and has seen his contract with the Greek side end early to facilitate a move. It was due to conclude at the end of the season but he will instead be with the Championship strugglers at Oakwell until then.

“FC PAOK announce the mutually consented termination of cooperation with Liam Lawrence . The Irish footballer was acquired in the summer of 2012 and wore the jersey of PAOK in 44 games, recording four goals. PAOK FC wishes every success to the player,” a PAOK statement read today.

Lawrence, who has won 15 caps for the Republic of Ireland, said: “It was an honor to play for the best team in Greece, with their passion and I will not ever forget PAOK. For me, in Greece there is only one team.”

Guidetti (21) joined City at the age of 16 but his progress has been hampered by illness and injuries. He has appeared twice on the City bench this season but the club feel he would benefit from having greater opportunities elsewhere.

Guidetti is behind the likes of Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic at the Etihad Stadium. He spent time on loan at Burnley just over three years ago and also had a successful spell at Feyenoord in the 2011-12 season.

“We wanted to try and add different options to our attacking threat and John will certainly do that,” said Hughes. “He’s someone who if you get him in the right areas will make the most of opportunities that come his way because he’s a natural goal-scorer.

“There were several clubs who were interested in taking him on loan and we’re delighted that he has chosen to join us.”

Chief Executive Tony Scholes added: “We’ve had the deal to bring John in on loan on the stocks for a few days now but had to convert Stephen Ireland’s loan deal into a permanent deal to free-up another loan. We’re delighted to have brought John to the Club and are grateful to Stephen and Villa for their co-operation.”

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