The 28-year old required around a dozen stitches after being caught by a strong challenge from Maynor Figueroa in Saturday's 1-0 win to the Potters at the Britannia Stadium.
Ireland was able to walk off the pitch at half-time before undergoing treatment and now the Stoke boss is worried that he may experience some complications in his recovery.
"The thing to worry about now is whether any infection gets in the wound, there is a potential for that so we have got to be careful," said Hughes.
"It's a horrible gash, it's terrible, straight down the middle of the calf.
"It's going to take any number of weeks. He's been a very lucky boy because it could have been a career-threatening injury."
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