Bolton Wanderers have signed Stephen Ireland on a free transfer.

New Bolton Wanderers signing Stephen Ireland says he is just keen on getting back to playing regular football after suggesting it became a chore at former club Stoke City prior to his release.

“I’m completely open-minded and looking forward to the whole experience. At this point in my career and with everything that has happened I just want to play. I want to play loads and loads of football,” Ireland told the Bolton News.

“I got stuck in a rut [at Stoke City]. You’d come off the bench for six minutes, not play the next week, then get 15 minutes – and that becomes your story. Rather than say ‘hang on a minute, I’m worth more than this’ you just accept it and go along with it. You get complacent. It becomes a job.

“I don’t want to do that to myself. If I get to that stage again, I’ll pack it in and stay at home to look after my kids.”

Ireland signed a short-term contract with Bolton to be reviewed in January, and he will be hoping to quickly get up to fitness and make an impression at the University of Bolton stadium to earn a longer deal.

The former Manchester City man was cited as one of Stoke’s better players during his first two seasons at the club, making over 40 Premier League appearances as the Potters achieved top 10 finishes.

But since the 2015-16 campaign, Ireland made just 17 league appearances over three seasons as the Potters eventually succumbed to relegation to the Championship last term.

Ireland, a once highly-rated attacking midfielder, struggled at Stoke under Mark Hughes and after suffering a broken leg in the summer of 2016 his future at the club was always going to be in question.

A fresh challenge at Bolton may help revitalise him, and if he can reproduce anywhere near his best football then the Trotters will have a very tidy player on their hands.

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