THOMAS CHRISTIANSEN urged Leeds United to appeal Eunan O’Kane’s red card and accused Ipswich Town defender Jonas Knudsen of duping the referee after a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town yesterday.
O’Kane is facing a three-match ban and will join the long list of absentees facing Christiansen unless United resolve to contest his 37th-minute dismissal for headbutting Knudsen at Portman Road.
The Republic of Ireland international was ordered from the field after he and Knudsen clashed off the ball at the end of a Leeds attack which fizzled out with a challenge by O’Kane on Callum Connolly.
O’Kane brought down Connolly as the Ipswich midfielder shielded possession for a goal-kick, prompting Knudsen to confront him a few yards from referee Robert Jones.
Knudsen fell to the ground clutching his face but an angry Christiansen said the centre-back had “provoked” the situation by squaring up to O’Kane and claimed Jones “fell into” an attempt to have O’Kane sent off.
Leeds were forced to accept a six-game ban imposed on Samuel Saiz by the Football Association last week after Saiz was red-carded for spitting in United’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Newport County but asked if the club would challenge O’Kane’s sending off, Christiansen said: “I hope so. There’s no evidence that he (O’Kane) goes to him.
“He just faced him, there is contact and it is provocation. He (Knudsen) went for that, he got that and the referee fell into that.”
Video footage of the incident was unclear but in his post-match press conference, Christiansen rejected suggestions that a cameraman had seen O’Kane throw a headbutt, saying: “Prove it. You believe him, I believe my player. One person speaks to you that he saw it, another one shows me a video. In the video that we recorded we see that (no headbutt).
“My son also saw it and I trust my son. From the point of view of where the camera is, there’s no sign of him doing it and I take my conclusion from what I saw, not from what someone said.”
He just faced him, there is contact and it is provocation. He (Knudsen) went for that, he got that and the referee fell into that.Leeds United head coach, Thomas Christiansen
O’Kane’s dismissal left Leeds to play out almost an hour of the game with 10 men and Leeds were consigned to defeat by a spectacular 25-yard strike from on-loan Manchester City winger Bersant Celina in the 68th minute.
The match also came at the cost of a first-half injury to winger Pawel Cibicki, a fresh concern for Christiansen who was already without Saiz, Luke Ayling, Matthew Pennington, Ronaldo Vieira, Caleb Ekuban and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson through injury, illness or suspension.
New signing Laurens De Bock – brought in from Club Brugge for a £1.5m fee on Thursday – failed to feature at Portman Road having returned to Belgium in the aftermath of his transfer but the left-back is due to train this week and put himself in contention for Saturday’s clash with Millwall.
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Ronaldo Vieira could also make a timely return from a leg injury as Christiansen ponders multiple selection issues ahead of the weekend.
Leeds’ narrow loss to Ipswich left them a place below the Championship’s play-off zone and pressure is mounting on the club to do more business in the transfer market before the January window closes.
Christiansen said: “I will have De Bock available but we will see. We need to see what the possibilities are and what we can do. As I said, the transfer market is difficult, especially in the winter – what you can get, or it’s very expensive or there are players who haven’t played (regularly this season). They are trying to do their best to bring in some players.”