Paul McShane injury leaves long-term Hull City future in balance
PAUL McShane's hopes of earning a long-term future at the KC Stadium have been rocked after he was ruled out for the remainder of Hull City's promotion assault.
The 27-year-old's worst injury fears were confirmed yesterday when scans revealed he damaged ankle ligaments in the 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
A specialist will have the final say to determine if surgery is required, but McShane is already coming to terms with playing no further part in City's final push for promotion.
The injury marks a cruel end to a resurgent campaign for the Republic of Ireland international and raises inevitable question marks over his future with the Tigers.
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A lucrative four-year deal signed upon his arrival from Sunderland in August 2009 is now in its final months and McShane knows he can do no more in the battle to win a place in Steve Bruce's long-terms plans.
Bruce had previously suggested the popular defender would be offered a contract extension regardless of which division City find themselves in next season, but all talks have been postponed until May.
Of all the players nearing the end of their contracts, a group that includes Jay Simpson, Liam Rosenior, Seyi Olofinjana and Abdoulaye Faye, McShane has pushed to the front of the queue in an excellent campaign.
Although he was made to wait until October for his first league start, 27 appearances have since seen the defender establish himself as a firm fans' favourite owing to his whole-hearted style.
McShane's expected absence for the final eight games of the season also leaves Bruce with reduced defensive options.
Either son Alex or Faye, both of whom have performed admirably this term, will be asked to join James Chester and Jack Hobbs in a three-man central defence when City travel to Huddersfield Town in 10 days time.
Another option will come from the on-loan Ahmed Fathi. He is still to start a fixture since joining the Tigers from Al-Ahly in January but will hope for match fitness on international duty with Egypt this week.