Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce believes Jack Rodwell must show more discipline during matches after the midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season against Chelsea.
The England international will now miss the Boxing Day trip to former club Manchester City through suspension, after receiving his fifth caution in only his sixth start of the campaign.
Allardyce believes it is an area that the 24-year-old must improve on, as the Black Cats cannot afford to lose players in their bid to survive in the Premier League this season.
He said: “I was surprised to learn he was suspended because he hasn’t played that much. He has to control himself more because he did give away a lot of fouls at Chelsea and deserved to get booked.”
Sunderland are currently second from bottom of the table and five points adrift of safety heading into the match against the Citizens, and they face a midfield crisis following the news of Rodwell’s suspension.
The former Everton man joins injured duo Lee Cattermole and Sebastian Larsson on the sidelines, while on-loan Rennes midfielder Ola Toivonen was substituted at half-time during the defeat to Chelsea.
That leaves Jordi Gomez as the only other senior central midfielder available to Allardyce and the Spaniard has not started a match since November 7.
Sunderland have lost their last three league games and are outsiders at 15.00 to defeat City on Saturday, while Manuel Pellegrini’s side are on offer at 1.20 and the draw is available at 7.00.