Ireland came on off the bench against Tottenham Hotspur last week when Stoke were trailing 2-0 late into the second half of the game and inspired the Potters to a fighiting draw.
Hughes said: "During his time here he's been very unlucky. Whenever he's had a run in the side, more often than not he's had an injury and it seems circumstances have gone against him on two or three occasions. We know the talent he has and he's very well regarded, not only by me, but also by the coaches and his team-mates.
"The key for me was that he, like Joselu, was able to come on and make an impact and that shows they are fully engaged in the game and not upset that they aren't in the first 11. That really encouraged me, that senior players who are obviously disappointed not to be in the first 11 came on and had an impact.
"That's what we will need this year. It's a long season and at times you lose key personalities, so people have to be ready to come in and make an impact."