Jack Clarke apologised to his Sunderland teammates after a needless late booking at Luton meant he will miss the midweek trip to Huddersfield Town. Clarke gave away a foul in injury time at Kenilworth Road and kicked the ball away in frustration, leaving referee James Linington no option but to produce a yellow card.
That was Clarke's fifth booking of the season, triggering an automatic one-match suspension which means he must now sit out the Black Cats' game against Huddersfield at The John Smith's Stadium on Wednesday night. Winger Clarke had been treading a fine line since collecting his fourth caution in Sunderland's defeat at Swansea City on October 8, but had avoided another booking in the last three games ahead of the Luton match.
Had he not been booked yesterday, he would still have needed to avoid a card at Huddersfield and then at home to Cardiff City next weekend before reaching the 19-game cut-off point for five bookings. Sunderland still have three other players on four yellow cards - Alex Pritchard, Luke O'Nien, and Dennis Cirkin - and they must avoid a further booking in the next two games.
Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray said of Clarke: "He's apologised, he's really frustrated. It's frustrating for the team because you can see what a threat he is, the right-back didn't know what to do with him on Saturday.
"It was unlikely that he was going to get through six games since his fourth booking without getting another, and now it's come. He'll miss a game and maybe it's a chance for Jewi [Jewison Bennette] to show us all how fast and direct he is."
Clarke has been one of Sunderland's most potent attacking threats since joining from Spurs in the summer, and his absence will be keenly felt by the team. But, as Mowbray intimated, the Black Cats have Costa Rican wideman Bennette waiting in the wings and he is likely to be handed his first start against the Terriers.
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