Stephen Ireland was forced to train with Manchester City’s reserves ahead of his planned move to Aston Villa.
Ireland, who is being used as a makeweight in the £26million deal to bring England midfielder James Milner to Eastlands, had a frank 15-minute exchange with City’s first-team coach David Platt during first-team training at the club’s Carrington complex.
As City’s players trained ahead of Thursday’s Europa League qualifier against Timisoara in Romania, Ireland – who has been left out of the 23-man squad for the tie – was told by Platt he would no longer be training with the first-team squad.
Ireland appeared to take exception to being asked to train with the reserves and had an animated discussion with Platt, who was eventually forced to walk City’s two-time Player of the Year over to finish the session with the club’s youth and fringe players.
Yesterday’s episode capped a remarkable fall from grace for Ireland who, along with fellow City outcast Craig Bellamy, has been deemed surplus to requirements by boss Roberto Mancini, as he prepares to trim his squad to 25 to meet the new Premier League ruling.
Ireland looked “distraught and was left scratching his head” following a ten minute exchange with Platt, which resulted in the midfielder being walked to the reserves’ training pitch.
The onlooker told the Manchester Evening News: “He looked a bit embarrassed training with the reserves and was certainly not whole-hearted, not surprising as he was player of the year just two years ago.”