Ireland joined Stoke this week on-loan.
"Mark Hughes knew him at Manchester City and the best years Stephen has played have been under him there," Walters told the Irish Independent.
"So, Mark has had faith in him to bring him here on a season long loan. Richard Dunne knows him and says he can be a top player as well. It's all hands on deck in midfield, so there's good competition for places which should benefit everyone."
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