Nicky Butt, the former England midfielder, last night stormed out of Birmingham City's Premiership match at West Ham United after a pre-match row with his manager, Steve Bruce.
The 31-year-old was believed to be incensed that he had been dropped in favour of Bruce's inexperienced 21-year-old son, Alex, who is normally a defender but who played in central midfield in the club's 3-0 defeat. The result lifted their opponents to sixth in the table and heightened Birmingham's relegation fears.
Butt, who is on a season-long loan from Newcastle United and is a former team-mate of Steve Bruce at Manchester United, is understood to have left the Boleyn Ground before the kick-off, although Birmingham refused to comment on what happened.
It was Bruce's first League start for his father's club, after just two brief Premiership appearances as a substitute since joining from Blackburn Rovers last year. Bruce, who has appeared for Birmingham in the FA Cup, was booked last night for an ugly first-half challenge on Danny Gabbidon.
Butt has been hampered by injury this season but was fully fit and played in Birmingham's last League match, a defeat by Arsenal. His absence meant Bruce had to draft in a substitute, Matthew Birley. Quite where the row leaves Butt's future at Birmingham remains to be seen.