Aston Villa fans were not entirely pleased with reports from the Reading Chronicle stating that Stephen Ireland was being lined up for a shock return to the club this summer.
The 31-year-old was released by Stoke City after The Potters were relegated from the Premier League in May. Although few had expected Ireland to be considered for a second spell at a club he joined for £8 million in 2010 but only started 34 league games for thanks to a series of serious injury issues.
But it seems that Ireland will not be returning after all. Though the reason why is far from a positive one.
According to Mirror (live blog, 10.26am), Aston Villa’s financial situation has gotten so bad that Steve Bruce cannot even afford to bring in free agents this summer. As a result, even the unattached Ireland appears to be beyond the club’s means.
The former Manchester City midfielder has a fantastic football brain and would be one of the most intelligent footballers in the Championship if fit, so you can see why Aston Villa would have considered bringing him back – especially given that key creative force Jack Grealish looks set to bid farewell to his boyhood club.
It also seems very unlikely that Villa will be able to sign Moses Odubajo, the full-back who was linked with a reunion with his former Hull City boss Steve Bruce after failing to make an appearance since May 2016 through injury.
Odubajo has also been training with Celtic and former club Brentford since becoming a free-agent.