Samuel Saiz is facing a six-match ban at a vital stage of Leeds United’s season after being shown a red card for allegedly spitting at Newport County midfielder Robbie Willmott during yesterday’s FA Cup defeat.
Saiz was dismissed following a clash with Willmott which took place seconds after Newport’s winning goal and could now be missing until the middle of next month.
The Spaniard confronted Willmott after being tripped by the Newport midfielder near the halfway line as Leeds prepared to kick-off in the wake of Shawn McCoulsky’s 89th-minute winner.
Referee Mike Dean showed Saiz a straight red card and will accuse the 26-year-old of spitting at Willmott when he submits his match report to the Football Association today.
Saiz faced a similar allegation after Leeds’ Carabao Cup win over Port Vale in August, with Vale’s then manager Michael Brown claiming he spat at defender Joe Davis.
A brief FA investigation found that Saiz had no case to answer.
Dean’s decision, however, leaves Saiz facing a serious charge and FA guidelines drawn up in 2014 recommend an automatic six-match suspension for any player found guilty of spitting.
A ban of that length would rule Saiz out until at least United’s visit to Derby County on February 20 and potentially until their home clash with Brentford on February 24.
Leeds’ fixture list will be altered when their scheduled meeting with Hull City on January 27 is rearranged on the back of Hull’s progression to round four of the FA Cup.
United crashed out of the competition tamely at Rodney Parade yesterday and Saiz’s dismissal, just 15 minutes after taking to the field as a substitute, worsened a bad afternoon for head coach Thomas Christiansen.
Christiansen said: “I didn’t see it so I don’t know. If it’s right why he got the red card then it’s a problem but I believe that he didn’t do it.”
Saiz has been a hugely influential figure in United’s season, adapting quickly to the Championship after a summer move from Huesca and claiming nine goals in the Championship and League Cup.
Leeds resume their Championship term away at Ipswich Town on Saturday placed sixth in the table but their hold on the final play-off position was been weakened by the loss of five points from two games against Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City.
Saiz’s absence would come at a significant blow and could force Leeds to revisit their plans for a quiet month in the January transfer market.
The club are yet to make any additions to their first-team squad, although they are currently in talks over a deal for Club Brugge left-back Laurens De Bock. Christiansen, meanwhile, is managing an injury list which deprived him of Stuart Dallas, Ronaldo Vieira, Luke Ayling and Caleb Ekuban yesterday.
The Leeds boss made nine changes to his line-up at Newport and asked if a 2-1 defeat indicated the need for a stronger squad, the United boss said: “This is something we need to talk about.
“We need to speak and we’ll see what happens.”
United’s loss to League Two Newport came less than a year after non-league Sutton United knocked Leeds out of the FA Cup in the fourth round.
Christiansen admitted he had left his players to reflect on their poor performance afterwards, saying: “I didn’t say anything. They know what went wrong and what I expected from them.
“Now we need to focus on another competition.”