Supporters’ player-of-the-season Stephen Ireland has declared himself fit for Villa’s final survival push after hailing his repaired relationship with the Villa Park faithful.
Ireland was presented with the accolade decided by fans at Monday’s awards night at the Holte Suite. It is given to the player with the highest man-of-the-match marks through the monthly Terrace Trophy vote.
The 25-year-old midfielder believes the award is evidence of how he has gone from zero to hero with fans following a “nightmare” first year last season.
And Ireland has confirmed he will be available for the crunch matches against Tottenham and Norwich after sitting out the Bolton and West Brom games.
“I knew that I wanted to achieve player of the year, even in pre-season I was saying it to my family and my friends, so I’m really happy that I’ve been chosen to get the award,” said Ireland.
“I got in the team for the first few games but I still wasn’t quite match fit because I had two or three months of being on the bench. But I got back, taken out of the team again for maybe five or six games and got back in against Chelsea away in December. In that game I scored, we went on to get a really good win and that really kicked me on.”
Ireland insists the support he has received from fans this season has prompted his surge in confidence.
“The fans really took to me a lot more and they warmed to me,” he said. “It makes my game a lot easier when the fans help me and back me.
“I like to have a good relationship and a bond with the fans. I think it’s important for every player, especially me.”