Neil Warnock has warned Leeds United’s squad to beware the consequences of cheap bookings and needless red cards with the last of his suspended players poised to return from a three-match ban.
The Leeds manager said the cost of recent suspensions to Jason Pearce and Michael Brown and the impending fight for selection facing Luke Varney should ward against poor discipline during the second half of the club’s season.
Pearce and Brown have both been dropped to the bench following three and one-match bans respectively – Pearce’s for a mistimed tackle against Watford and Brown’s for incurring his fifth yellow card of the season in the same game – and Varney could struggle to make Warnock’s squad for Saturday’s fixture at Derby County having missed the past fortnight.
The winger was dismissed during a 1-0 defeat at Millwall on November 18 after striking defender Adam Smith with an elbow and his place is under threat following Leeds’ run of three straight wins and the arrival at Elland Road of loanee Jerome Thomas.
Warnock said: “We’ve got to try and keep our discipline a little bit better.
“The two sendings off – whilst I don’t think they were malicious, we shouldn’t be giving referees decisions to make on silly things like that. Pearce was on the halfway line and Varney was on the halfway line. We ended up losing games where we could have got a result.
“The players concerned with the sendings off should set a lesson to all of my players. If you’re going to be stupid and put yourself at risk of losing your place, you might not get it back. Brown’s the same. A stupid booking gets him a one-match ban and he can’t get back in. I hope that continues.”
Pearce has been replaced in the centre of defence by on-loan Swansea City player Alan Tate, and Brown’s absence allowed David Norris to regain a slot in the centre of midfield.
Varney is returning to find Thomas installed on the left wing and Ryan Hall pushing for his second competitive start after influencing last weekend’s win at Huddersfield Town as a second-half substitute.
Warnock said: “It’s nice to know that we’ve got players like that if we get any unforeseen injuries. It’s almost a luxury.”
Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town boss Simon Grayson said he turned down the chance to take charge of a top-flight club during his time as manager at Leeds.
Grayson, sacked by Leeds in February and installed as Lee Clark’s successor at Huddersfield less than three weeks later, said his loyalty as a manager could never be questioned and that he was now at a club who backed him to the hilt.
“I’ve been very loyal as a manager during my time, three years at Blackpool and three at Leeds and believe me during that period of time at Leeds I had the chance to go and manage a club in the Premier League, but didn’t want to do that,” he said.
“I wanted to stay with the club that I had always supported and wanted to take the club forward.”