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Ireland a doubt

So says the MEN:
STEVIE Ireland has added to City's injury woes as they gear up for the big Manchester derby next weekend.

The midfielder limped off with an ankle injury during the Blues' 4-2 win over Arsenal and is already a doubt, along with Carlos Tevez.

Robinho has already been ruled out after it was revealed he has a stress fracture just above his ankle. And Emmanuel Adebayor could also be out of the game once the FA decide his punishment following Saturday's misdemeanours.

But Ireland suffered an aggravation of the ankle problem which affected him in the win at Portsmouth a fortnight earlier.

"On Saturday it was touch and go whether he went out for the second-half, so we had to get him off," said manager Mark Hughes.
There is no doubt that Ireland has struggled for form this season on the back of his superb 2008/09, although in mitigation he is being deployed in a slightly different role this campagin.

So much so in fact that it could be argued that his place could be under threat given the options we now have in midfield.

However, with the absence of Robinho and Tevez, with the very real possibility that Adebayor will also be unavailable, Ireland's presence will be even more valuable given the extra pressure on the midfield to create (and even take) opportunities if Craig Bellamy operates as a sole front man.

A big blow then if he doesn't make it.