Leeds United are to appeal against the red card shown to Matt Smith on Saturday as the club attempt to limit the fall-out from their shocking defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
The striker is facing a three-match ban after his dismissal at Hillsborough but Leeds intend to defend Smith over his 46th-minute challenge on Wednesday full-back Reda Johnson.
Smith had been on the field as a substitute for less than 60 seconds when he caught Johnson in the face with his left arm as he jumped to compete for a high ball close to the halfway line.
United were trailing 2-0 at the time and Wednesday punished his dismissal with four further goals, inflicting a 6-0 defeat on McDermott’s out-of-form side.
A suspension would rule Smith out of forthcoming home matches against Leicester City, Ipswich Town and Huddersfield Town but McDermott spoke with referee Lee Probert after full-time and expects the Football Association to overturn the red card.
“It wasn’t a sending off,” McDermott said. “There’s no way that’s a sending off. Matt caught him but he was trying to make an honest challenge.
“I didn’t think it was a booking quite frankly and the referee’s got to look at it. They have to rescind it and if they don’t, it’s not right.”
Smith’s dismissal was a set-back in a desperate performance at Hillsborough, wrecking McDermott’s attempt to salvage something from the game with a change of formation after half-time.
Wednesday overran his 3-4-3 system before the break, with Johnson and Atdhe Nuhiu striking on 20 and 45 minutes respectively, and Connor Wickham and Chris Maguire established a 4-0 lead before Caolan Lavery stepped off the bench to score his first two goals for the Owls.
The match was a grim introduction for new Leeds signings Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart, both of whom started the derby, but McDermott said: “They’ll be alright. It was a difficult day for them but they’re both good players, I’ve got faith in them to do well and I’m glad we’ve got them.
“But what I saw (at Hillsborough) was unbelievable. In a local derby it’s public humiliation as far as we’re concerned. I’ve never been beaten like that before.
“We made unbelievable individual errors, basic errors, which have cost us every single time. I’ll go back to basics with this team and do whatever has to be done
“I want to be part of something special at Leeds but at this moment in time it’s a struggle. I just hope that all of us can pick ourselves up and move on again. We’ve got Leicester coming to our place on Saturday and it’s a great game for us.
“To get in the mix you have to win the next game. That’s all we can do now.”