SHEFFIELD United were last night dealt another blow in their battle to avoid relegation when Lee Williamson, the club’s influential midfielder, was handed a four-match ban.
The Football Association’s disciplinary panel were asked to review the red card he received following a challenge on Lloyd Doyley during Saturday’s defeat at Watford.
But despite acknowledging it was not a spurious appeal – which could have seen the suspension increased – the governing body rejected arguments that Williamson had been harshly dealt with by referee Dean Whitestone.
Having been dismissed at Ipswich Town last month, the 28-year-old is now ineligible for selection until United travel to fellow strugglers Preston North End on April 16.
With striker Darius Henderson also being sent off at Vicarage Road, manager Micky Adams has seen his options limited for this weekend’s Yorkshire derby with Leeds (kick-off 1pm).
United, who are six points adrift of safety in the Championship table, included the likes of Marcus Bent, Matthew Lowton, Elian Parrino and Rob Kozluk in yesterday’s totesport.com fixture with Nottingham Forest at Ilkeston’s New Manor Ground.
Adams said: “Lee is going to miss four games. The red card was not overturned but at least they (the FA) did not add an extra match.”
Meanwhile, United’s academy travel to the Midlands tonight for the first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final tie with Aston Villa. John Pemberton’s side have beaten Cheltenham Town, Millwall, Blackpool and Leicester City en route to the last four.
Speaking ahead of United’s meeting with the three-time winners the coach, whose squad host the return at Bramall Lane on April 6, said: “It’s going to be a wonderful experience for the boys and we are looking to go there and do well.”