Newcastle midfielder Stephen Ireland has been ruled out of the final four games of the season with an ankle injury.
The on-loan Aston Villa man sustained the problem during Saturday's 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at Blackpool. The Magpies confirmed in a statement this afternoon that he will be unavailable for the remainder of the campaign after having the injury assessed by the club's medical staff.
The 24-year-old has made two appearances for the Tynesiders since his January arrival from Villa Park, coming off the bench against both Manchester United and Blackpool.
Ireland made the loan switch to St James' Park in a bid to get some football under his belt after falling out of favour at Manchester City and then failing to make an early impression following his £8million summer move to the midlands, but endured a nightmare first two and a half months in the north-east.
He arrived at Newcastle with a knee injury and soon picked up a thigh strain. Ireland then spent several days at the bedside of partner Jessica Lawlor after she suffered multiple injuries in a car accident earlier this month.
Things had seemed to be looking up for the former Republic of Ireland international before this latest setback, when he finally regained fitness and was handed a debut in the goalless home draw against the Red Devils eight days ago.
Manager Alan Pardew had challenged him to use the run-in to convince him he could have a long-term future at the club.