Chris Wilder will not appeal Leon Clarke’s red card against Barnsley, despite claiming the centre-forward had been provoked into reacting after clashing with visiting captain Angus MacDonald.
Clarke and MacDonald were both dismissed following an off-the-ball incident just before half-time and are expected to serve three match bans when referee Tim Robinson submits his match report this morning.
Wilder defended Clarke’s character and his team’s discplinary record after Billy Sharp’s early strike settled a robust South Yorkshire derby but admitted: “No, when you get into that territory, when somebody grabs somebody, I don’t think they’ll make a decision off that one.
“We can’t do another referee’s report. To be fair, I thought he refereed it well. I was pleased there were tackles flying in and that it was competitive, because that’s what the game is about, regardless of whether it’s a local derby or not.”
Clarke appeared to react after being confronted by MacDonald on the edge of Barnsley’s box.
Although Wilder and his opposite number Paul Heckingbottom offered different interpretations of events leading up to the sendings-off, the United manager added: “It was pretty clear their boy has tried to head butt Leon. He said their lad has tried to punch him and he’s grabbed him around the top of the chest or the neck area. Then he’s tried the head butt. I think he’s a bit unlucky, I don’t want my players rolling about if people chuck punches. That’s not what we’re about. Maybe Leon should have walked away but it’s pretty difficult to do that is someone chucks a punch at you. He’s a physical player, Leon, and he was playing on the edge as you do.”
Clarke’s absence means Ched Evans is likely to make his first start since returning to United during the close season when Leicester City visit Bramall Lane in the Carabao Cup second round tomorrow.
“I think our disciplinary record has been outstanding,” Wilder said. “We got Chris Basham sent off last season which I thought was really unfortunate and now Leon. Two red cards, with the way we like to play, it’s a decent ratio. It does open it up.”
Meanwhile, Wilder has confirmed that defender Richard Stearman will be absent for “between six to eight weeks” as he recovers from a hamstring complaint. Medical staff had initially hoped he would return to action early next month.