Stephen Ireland sidelined after vicious challenge from Maynor Figueroa

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WARNING: There is a graphic picture of the injury embedded at the bottom of this page.

Stephen Ireland faces a spell on the sidelines after Hull City defender Maynor Figueroa went studs-up into the Stoke City midfielder’s calf, causing a gash that needed 12-15 stitches to close.

[ RECAP: Stoke City 1-0 Hull City ]

There was no foul given on the play, just another referee’s decision, or lack thereof, that has a manager irate.

Potters’ boss Mark Hughes was visibly upset after the match, and said Ireland was lucky because the challenge could have ended his career.

It was a shocking challenge. It could have finished Stephen’s career. Why it is not a straight red, I have no idea.

There has been a lot of talk of challenges recently but this was worse than any of them. We have lost Stephen for any number of weeks. He is in a bad way.

He has a slice on his calf and needed 12 or 15 stitches. He has come in at half-time, rolled his sock down, and everyone was taken aback by the severity of the gash.

The referees have got to get their act together. The officials are finding it very difficult to get the key decisions right.

Officiating has been arguably the biggest talking point of the Premier League season so far, and Hughes has the right to be vocal as the challenge by Figueroa was especially vicious and left his player sidelined indefinitely.

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Having already lost Bojan for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, losing Ireland will be a tough blow for the Potters. Stoke City currently sits 10th on the table, four points clear of Newcastle in the bottom half.

Below is a picture of Ireland’s injury. Gruesome.