STEPHEN Ireland’s Irish eyes are finally smiling after making his long-awaited Newcastle United debut.
And the on-loan midfielder is confident he can put smiles on the faces of the club’s fans before the end of the campaign.
Ireland – who joined the club on a half-season loan from Aston Villa in January – finally made his bow in Tuesday night’s goalless draw against Manchester United.
And the 24-year-old showed flashes of his undoubted talent in his second-half cameo.
Ireland – who has been sidelined with thigh and knee injuries – believes he can hit form in the last few games of the season, and earn a permanent move to St James’s Park.
“I’m here on loan for the next six weeks, and it’s in my hands what happens,” Ireland said.
“I can’t comment too much on my future, or where I will be next year.
“That part is out of my hands, but what is in my hands is that I can work hard and play the best I can.”
Ireland was “taken aback” by the reception he got when he came off the bench for his first appearance, and he already feels at home on Tyneside, on and off the pitch.
And the former Manchester City player is just hoping he can dovetail into what he feels is a genuinely talented squad.
“The team’s amazing here,” Ireland went on. “When you are on the outside looking in, you wonder ‘is he a good or player?’
“But when you are on the inside you see that some of the players here actually world class.
“I’m really impressed by Jose Enrique and Fabricio Coloccini – they’re really good players and genuinely gifted.
“The whole squad works really, really hard which is impressive. When they get the ball, they’re good on the ball.
“I’m impressed by everybody here. Hopefully, I can just help continue that good work.”