Season over for Newcastle United's Stephen Ireland
Newcastle United have confirmed midfielder Stephen Ireland will miss the remainder of the Premier League season with an ankle injury.
The 24-year-old has made only two substitute appearances since his January loan move from Aston Villa.
Ireland, a former Republic of Ireland international, arrived at St James' Park with a knee injury that delayed his debut for the club.
He then suffered a thigh injury on his return to training in March.
Since joining Aston Villa as part of the undisclosed deal that saw James Milner move to Manchester City in August, Ireland has endured a difficult campaign punctuated by loss of form and injury.
His debut for Villa, coincidentally a 6-0 defeat by Newcastle in August, was one of only 12 outings under then-boss Kevin MacDonald and his successor Gerard Houllier, five of which came as a substitute.
Houllier had initially insisted the Cork-born player would remain at Villa Park after the January transfer window, but then changed his mind when Ireland requested to leave the Midlands in December.
Newcastle were successful in completing a deal until the end of current campaign during the January transfer window, despite concerns regarding his fitness.
However injuries continued to plague Ireland, who was also forced to apologise for being photographed at a nightclub the evening before March's 4-0 defeat by Stoke City.
His recent substitute appearances suggested the playmaker could make an impression on Tyneside, but this latest setback could have ended hopes of a permanent move to Newcastle during the summer.