Stephen Ireland has admitted there is a major question mark over his Manchester City future. After earning a PFA young player of the year nomination with some stellar performances last term, Ireland has struggled badly this year.
Injury, illness and loss of form have combined to see him go backwards in his quest for a regular Blues starting slot and having missed last night's devastating defeat to Tottenham, has still only appeared 11 times under Roberto Mancini.
The 23-year-old has never given any indication of a desire to leave Eastlands. However, with a major review of playing staff certain to follow the failure to secure a UEFA Champions League berth next season, Ireland knows he could be in the firing line.
"There is a question mark over next year for me," he told the Manchester Evening News. "I don't know what will happen. I am contracted to City and all I can do is carry on doing my job and performing well when I am called upon. If anything changes during the summer it will be down to the club, not me."
Ireland only signed a new long-term contract last summer, so it seems strange to be talking about his future already. However, undoubtedly, this term has not gone as he would have hoped, leaving him deeply irritated. "It has been a difficult year because I care so much about my job," he said. "I care about my game and about the club but there is a lot of frustration bottled up because I have not played as much as I would have liked."