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Hughes furious over Ireland injury


Stephen Ireland lies injured after a tackle from Maynor Figueroa

Stephen Ireland lies injured after a tackle from Maynor Figueroa

Stephen Ireland lies injured after a tackle from Maynor Figueroa

A gruesome image has emerged showing Stoke midfielder Stephen Ireland's injured leg shortly after the tackle his manager Mark Hughes said could have ended the player's career.

Just before the interval of the Potters' 1-0 Barclays Premier League home win over Hull on Saturday, Ireland was on the receiving end of a rash-looking challenge from Tigers defender Maynor Figueroa and he was subsequently substituted at half-time.

After the game, Hughes revealed Ireland had sustained a calf injury that required ''something like 12 or 15 stitches'' - and a photograph published on Sunday by The Telegraph shows the huge gash that was in the 28-year-old Irishman's leg before the stitches went in.

The tackle that had caused the damage went unpunished, with referee Neil Swarbrick allowing play to continue at the time.

And the official and his assistant were strongly condemned by Hughes, who said Figueroa should have been shown a straight red card.

The manager also rated the challenge worse than the one made a week earlier by Burnley forward Ashley Barnes on Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic at Stamford Bridge which drew so much attention.

Hughes told the BBC: "The tackle on Stevie Ireland could have finished his career.

"Why the referee hasn't given a straight red for that, I have no idea. The referees have got to get their act together, really.

"He has had it all stitched up and hopefully it doesn't get infected, but that is the risk over the next couple of days."

A 71st-minute header from Stoke striker Peter Crouch, notched a minute after he came off the bench, settled Saturday's encounter at the Britannia Stadium - a game which was particularly low on entertainment.

Neither side produced much going forward, with Hull's only real chance coming in the 20th minute when Sone Aluko outfoxed Philipp Wollscheid to get into the Stoke box before sending the ball wide of the far post with his left foot from a tight angle.

Tigers boss Steve Bruce - whose side are four points above the relegation zone in 15th while Stoke are 10th - claimed Crouch's effort should have been ruled out for offside, and said the Aluko opportunity was the best of the match.

Bruce, quoted by the Hull Daily Mail, said: "We didn't do enough with the ball but we had the best chance of the game.

"When Sone's wriggled free, that's a great opportunity and when you look at the opportunities in the game, we've probably created the best one.

"He's tried to hit it with the outside of his left foot. For me, you have to take it with your right foot and at least hit the target. It's wonderful skill to get there but when you create big chances like that, you've got to take them."