several Sheffield Wednesday players will have to be on their best behaviour over Christmas with the threat of suspension looming over them.
If a player receives five cautions between the start of the season and the end of the calendar year they miss one match.
Already this campaign Owls’ manager Gary Megson has lost the services of captain Rob Jones, loan centre half Danny Batth and central defender turned marauding left-back Reda Johnson for a game due to bookings.
And now, with a Boxing Day clash at Walsall and New Year’s Eve at Preston North End, seven players could potentially miss either the match at Deepdale or the visit of Tranmere Rovers to Hillsborough on January 2.
On loan right-back James Tavernier is the one closest to suspension with four bookings.
Tavernier picked up his fourth caution of the season at Oldham Athletic on December 10 and was perhaps fortunate not to get another when Huddersfield Town winger Gary Roberts was running rampant in the first half at Hillsborough on Saturday.
However, the 20-year-old showed he possesses poise by gradually coming to terms with the Terriers wide-man as the match progressed.
Fortunately for Megson, the players most central to his
plans on the list - Jose Semedo, Chris Lines and David Prutton - are two cautions away from a ban.
The others - Clinton Morrison, Gary Madine and Giles Coke - are all just one booking from being sidelined but are either out injured (Madine) or are only currently squad players (Morrison and Coke) for Wednesday after spells on loan at MK Dons and Bury respectively.
Perhaps surprisingly, given his combative style of play, Semedo has only been cautioned three times this season.
The Portuguese midfielder has played 24 competitive matches since joining the Owls in the summer from League One rivals Charlton Athletic. He leads all Wednesday players in appearances.
It is testament to the timing of his tackling that he can break up so many of the opposition’s attacks without incurring the wrath of the referee. He has, however, been booked during his last two matches and won’t want that run to continue on Monday at the Banks’s Stadium as Wednesday look to keep the pressure on his former club.
Should Semedo and the rest of his teammates escape from yellow cards until New Year’s Day then the suspension system is reset.
If any player is reckless, or unfortunate, enough to get to 10 bookings by the end of the season then they will be suspended for either one of two matches.
Jones and Batth, at the heart of the Wednesday defence, are already on their way to this particular landmark but it is unlikely they will change their uncompromising manner and will see a match sat in the stands as an unwelcome occupational hazard of being a no-nonsense centre-half.