The Sunderland players walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of Manchester United clash

Sunderland have two players walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Manchester United.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 7:51 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:02 pm
Steven Pienaar is walking a disciplinary tightrope

Right-back Billy Jones and midfielder Steven Pienaar are both one booking away from a one-game suspension.

The pair, who missed the Watford win with hip and calf injuries respectively, have both been booked four times since the start of the season.

The cut-off date for players receiving five cautions falls on December 31.

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That means Jones and Pienaar will have to keep their noses clean for the games against Manchester United and the New Year’s Eve game at relegation rivals Burnley to avoid a one-game ban in the first week of January.

David Moyes’ Sunderland side have shown they are up for the relegation fight in recent weeks.

And the stats for yellow and red cards prove it – with Sunderland second in the FA’s disciplinary table behind Watford.

This season the Black Cats have picked up 37 yellow cards and three red (Adnan Januzaj, Pienaar and Papy Djilobodji) after 17 league games.

Watford have picked up the same number of reds but have three more yellow cards on their disciplinary record.

Lynden Gooch is also one booking away from a ban but he is currently out for several weeks with ankle ligament damage so won’t be affected.

The 20-year-old midfielder broke into the first team scene this season but is facing a lengthy spell out after being carried off with the injury in the Under-23 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in early December.