The future of the Leeds United footballer Jonathan Woodgate was in doubt last night after the club revealed that his jaw has been broken during an incident at a pub.
The 22-year-old defender, who has played for England, was found guilty of affray four months ago after an attack on an Asian student outside a nightclub.
Mr Woodgate had surgery yesterday to reset and wire the jaw. The Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, indicated that he would miss the rest of the football season.
The incident took place at a pub in Mr Woodgate's home town of Middlesbrough, where he was drinking with two friends after a day off from training on Tuesday. The evening's drinking started quietly at around 5pm in the Brunton Arms at Nunthorpe, the Middlesbrough suburb where he grew up, but ended in violence after his group had moved into bars in the town centre. It is believed the attack happened on the street at around 10pm as he left the pub to find a taxi. Mr Woodgate has not reported the incident to Cleveland Police.
The incident came to light when Mr Woodgate failed to appear for a court hearing about a speeding offence. Mr Ridsdale said: "Leeds United can confirm Jonathan Woodgate has undergone an operation after sustaining a broken jaw in an attack on Tuesday night. He will not be available for the remainder of this season."
The injury comes days after Mr Ridsdale defended him in the face of England's decision not to pick him for the summer World Cup squad.
The £10m-rated defender completed 100 hours of community service after being found guilty of affray in an incident that ended in the student Sarfraz Najeib being kicked unconscious 16 months ago. His Leeds team-mate and co-defendant Lee Bowyer was acquitted.
Last month Mr Woodgate was convicted of speeding by magistrates in Richmond, North Yorkshire, after driving at 97mph in July last year. He was banned from driving but the disqualification was suspended pending an appeal.