He [Ireland] has also had a separate meeting with Mancini and his representatives will be having talks with the chief executive, Garry Cook, this week before deciding whether to put in an official transfer request.
"I spoke to Stephen two weeks ago but we must speak again soon," said Mancini, who flew today to Abu Dhabi for his end-of-season debrief with the City chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak. "I don't know what he is thinking about his future but, for me, Stephen is a fantastic player and if he can change his head I think he can start to play like last season [2008-09] again."
I'm sure he is right. One of the many disappointing aspects of Ireland's season is that we often make a presumption that a young player's progress is bankable - that a good season or spell means the establishment of a new base-line from which he can advance. This season just gone shows that this is not true; Ireland has regressed to his Pearce/Eriksson form - talented but patchy, prone to letting the game pass him by and clearly at the mercy of his own confidence-swings. We know what he is capable of but it will take a lot of work from all sides to bring it out of him again in 2010/11.