The Blues runaway player of the season is determined to show that he is no one hit wonder.
As he did twelve months ago, Ireland has spent the summer pounding pads and hitting the hills in Glossop in a bid to steal a fitness march on his Premier League rivals.
After watching Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz sign, the 22-year-old, who is known to fans as Superman thanks to a prank with a logoed undergarment, knows that it is going to be hard work simply nailing down a first team place this season and is determined to give himself the best chance of repeating his heroics of last term.
“What has happened this summer is really exciting and the squad is going to be a lot stronger that is for sure,” declared the midfielder who was the Blues second top scorer last season with 13 goals.
“Gareth Barry is a very shrewd and clever signing by the manager. He is a top class all around midfielder who will give us more balance. Gareth knows his way around the Premier League and you know exactly what you will get from him.
“The great thing about Gareth and Roque, who is another crucial addition, is that they are players who are in their prime. They are experienced but not on the way down and we have got them at just the right time.
“Roque will help us vary our attacks more. He puts himself about and is a proper target man who also scores goals. He has always struck me as someone who is easy to play off because he holds the ball well and reads the game cleverly.
There will be plenty of competition for places and it will certainly keep us all on our toes. It will mean an extra bite in training and that can only be a good thing for everyone.
“Players are going to have to be flexible and that is great. There will be a big fight to get into that first team of the season and that is my immediate aim. Then it will be to play so well that the manager can never think of leaving me out.
“It is important for us to get off to a good start because that builds confidence and momentum and there is no reason, having looked at the fixtures, why we cannot do that.”