Sunderland striker Stephane Sessegnon will discover today whether or not his season is over.
The 28-year-old Benin international’s claim for unfair dismissal over his sending-off at Aston Villa on Monday evening is scheduled to be heard this afternoon by an independent regulatory commission.
Referee Lee Probert issued a straight red card for Sessegnon’s second-half challenge on Yacouba Sylla as the Black Cats slipped to a disastrous 6-1 Barclays Premier League defeat.
The player was astonished to be dismissed and manager Paolo Di Canio signalled the club’s intention to appeal within minutes of the final whistle.
Sunderland formally lodged their claim yesterday and can expect a decision later today.
Should they fail to have Mr Probert’s ruling overturned, Sessegnon will miss the remaining three games of the season, home clashes with Stoke and Southampton and a final day trip to Tottenham.
That would prove a massive blow to the Black Cats, who have been plunged right back into the relegation mire as a result of their black night in the Midlands.
Sessegnon has been in sparkling form under new boss Di Canio, scoring the first goal in their 3-0 derby win at Newcastle and then firing his side to victory over Everton six days later to send them clear of the relegation zone.
Despite their humiliation at Villa, Sunderland, like Paul Lambert’s men and the Magpies, remain five points better off than 18th-placed Wigan, although the Latics have a game in hand.
A three-game ban would deprive Di Canio of one of the men most likely to drag the club out of trouble with leading scorer Steven Fletcher already ruled out of the remainder of the campaign after undergoing ankle surgery.
That would heap even more pressure on £5m January signing Danny Graham, who is yet to open his account in a red and white shirt after 10 appearances.
Sessegnon’s red card was the second of his career on Wearside, the first coming in a 1-1 league draw at Newcastle in March last year.
On that occasion, he was sent of for raising his hands to Magpies midfielder Cheick Tiote, whose theatrical collapse did him no favours, although the African left referee Mike Dean with little option but to dispatch him.