JOHN Mensah’s drive to win a new contract at Sunderland will continue unimpeded after the club successfully appealed against the red card he received on Sunday.
The Ghanaian captain was given a straight red by erratic referee Kevin Friend after being judged to have denied Liverpool’s Luis Suarez a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
But given the fact that not only did the Liverpool striker not have the ball under control at the time but that he was also some distance away from it, Sunderland’s decision to instantly appeal the red always had a good chance of success.
Yesterday afternoon the FA rescinded the decision which, though the right one, also represented a stroke of luck for Sunderland.
In his post-match Press conference Steve Bruce accepted Mensah’s foul was a yellow card one but not a red.
Had Friend got it right and given a yellow – which would have been Mensah’s second of the game – he would have been sent off anyway and automatically missed Sunderland’s next game because there is no right of appeal against two yellows.
The straight red though allowed Sunderland the right to question the punishment and that quirk now frees Mensah to play against Manchester City at Eastlands a week this Sunday.
For Mensah it is just the news he wants to hear after hitting a run of form and fitness – the injury prone African has started Sunderland’s last five games and is desperate to prove that the club should look to bring him back in the summer for a third successive loan season.
Bruce will be a relieved man too, especially with Phil Bardsley and Anton Ferdinand suffering knocks at the weekend.
The prospect of being without all three defenders for the Manchester City game would have given the manager a real headache.
But Mensah can now expect to partner Titus Bramble again in the heart of Sunderland’s defence, with the manager still undecided whether or not it is too early to recall Michael Turner, who continues to make his way back from a knee ligament injury.