Club Focus – Newcastle – Williamson denies violent conduct charge

On the back of the 5-1 humiliation against Bolton the Magpies faced further bad news at the start of the week with defender Mike Williamson facing a possible suspension. Williamson was charged with violent conduct by the FA following on an off-the-ball incident with Bolton’s Johan Elmander. Although the incident was missed by referee Howard Webb replays showed the defender appearing to head butt Elmander. Williamson has subsequently denied the charge so a regulatory committee will decide the defender’s fate today. If guilty the 27-year-old will face a minimum three-match ban, joining fellow first-choice central defender Fabricio Coloccini on the sidelines.

Williamson’s manager Chris Hughton has defended the player who has only received two cautions so far this season. Hughton said: “It was a silly action by Mike, but I think it was the frustration of some five minutes before that when Johan Elmander pulled him down. It’s there for everybody to see, he shouldn’t have got involved. But what it was, was a body check and no more than that. It was a reaction to Elmander pulling him – it was a yellow card.” Newcastle’s discipline appeared to slip against Bolton with a number of players becoming embroiled in off-the-ball scuffles. With Joey Barton currently suspended for another off-the-ball scuffle the Magpies could be starting to give themselves a bad reputation for fair play. A number of unsavoury incidents both on and off the pitch have done little to help their cause.

If Williamson is suspended then Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor will become the biggest beneficiaries. Taylor has yet to play for the Magpies this season while Campbell is yet to start in the league. Both have had a number of injuries to contend with this season although they have both appeared on the bench in recent weeks. With Chelsea next up on Sunday they will face a tough start to their partnership against the likes of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. Taylor appears no closer to agreeing a new contract with the club and is effectively playing to impress any new employers. He has around six months left on his contract and will soon be able to speak to foreign clubs in January.

Despite a number of fringe players linked with loan moves to Championship clubs, Hughton is unwilling to let any of his playing staff leave the club. The likes of Leon Best, Nile Ranger and Harris Vuckic have all been linked with moves away to get some football under their belts. But with injuries and suspensions beginning to bite Hughton does not want to lose any players. “With the January transfer window approaching, things might change,” he said. “But at the moment I don’t envisage sending anyone out on loan because we need those players in the squad to stay here. We don’t have the numbers to be letting anyone leave unless we are going to bring somebody in.”

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