By Dan Harrison
Stephen Ireland is ready to make a fresh start to his Villa career, insisting: "I'll give my all for the cause."
The Irish midfielder endured a difficult first season after joining from Manchester City last August.
He picked up a couple of niggling injuries and then slipped down the pecking order under former boss Gerard Houllier.
A frustrating loan spell at Newcastle followed when an ankle problem restricted him to just two appearances.
But Ireland is determined to kickstart his claret and blue career under new manager Alex McLeish.
"You have to start with a fresh new slate now," he said. "It didn't go off with a bang like I wanted it to when I first signed here.
"I just want to be given the opportunity to play. Last year I felt in training I had done enough to get that chance to play but it didn't happen for me for whatever reason.
"I want to play as often as I can and that is why you do pre-season - to stamp your name on the teamsheet as early as you can and then maintain it all season.
"There is a lot I want to give for the team and the cause and I am hoping I get a fair shot."
A major regret for Ireland since his switch from Eastlands is the lack of opportunities to shine in front of the Villa faithful.
That is something he hopes to address quickly with consistent performances.
"That's my main goal and my target," Ireland said. "I haven't played enough games and that's what I intend to put right.
"The only way of me building up a better relationship with the fans is by playing, regardless of what's said in the press.
"You do the talking on the field and that's exactly what I want to do.
"The fans are brilliant and all I ever wanted was to play in front of them but I haven't been given those opportunities.
"Summer has gone and pre-season is here and we just need to move on with the new manager and new staff."
Ireland revealed he is set to claim his favourite no.7 shirt for the 2011-12 campaign after it was vacated by Ashley Young.
The reshuffle will allow Darren Bent to take the traditional goalscorer's no.9 jersey.
"Darren's taking no.9 and I'm taking no.7," he added. "My number has always been seven, but when I came here Ash had got that number.
"But now I've got the one I want and so has Darren so we're really happy about that.
"I've always worn the no.7 since I was a young boy and it's the number I love. It kind of is a superstitious thing.
"The no.9 probably comes with a bit more pressure but I'm sure Darren can handle that and score the goals and hopefully I can do what a number seven should and set him up for a few of them."
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