According to multiple sources, including the NUFC Official Site, on-loan midfielder Stephen Ireland sustained a season-ending ankle injury against Blackpool on Saturday, likely ending his time with the club. Ireland, 24, was brought to Tyneside from Aston Villa during the January transfer window, and was thought to at least be a temporary replacement for Hatem Ben Arfa as he recovered from injury, but Ireland's own injuries kept him out of the lineup until April 19 against Manchester United.
Alan Pardew had recently stated that the last few games of the season would effectively be a tryout for Stephen Ireland, as the player had made clear that he was more than open to a permanent move to Newcastle. Pardew had no problem signing the injured Ben Arfa to a permanent deal while on loan, but that move doesn't necessarily preclude a similar transaction for Ireland.
I've included a bit of commentary after the jump.
I've already read lots of criticism of the loan move in light of this most recent news, but most of it is based on inaccurate information. Ireland was brought over on a "pay as he plays" type agreement, which meant that Newcastle was not simply footing the bill for his wages as he spent most of his time in the whirlpool in the training room.
It was a nice experiment, but it was one that didn't work out, so in my opinion Pardew would be foolish to offer him a contract of any financial substance. Stephen has expressed an affinity for the club and the fanbase, so if he wants to stick around for a little bit of money, fine. I don't want to see the transfer budget blown before the window starts on a hope and a prayer in the form of Stephen Ireland.
What do you think?