Agony for Middlesbrough’s Julio Arca

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JULIO ARCA has been ruled out of an emotional return to the Stadium of Light after Middlesbrough confirmed they will not be appealing the ex-Sunderland man’s red card.

Arca was sent off in stoppage time during Boro’s defeat at Coventry City on Saturday after an ugly two-footed lunge on Sky Blues midfielder Sammy Clingan.

The Argentine (left), who made more than 150 appearances during six years with the Black Cats, will miss Boro’s next three games, starting with Sunday’s Wear-Tees derby.

Arca’s absence leaves Boro boss Tony Mowbray with a midfield conundrum after Kevin Thomson was earlier dismissed for two yellow cards at the Ricoh Arena, while Nicky Bailey is sidelined with a long-term knee injury.

Mowbray said: “You can’t appeal yellow cards so we won’t be appealing Kevin’s and I don’t think we will be appealing Julio’s either.

“There’s no point in wasting your money. The bottom line is, the ref is not the reason we lost.”

A third successive league defeat leaves Boro five points adrift of the automatic promotion slots, with Mowbray’s men currently enduring their worst slump of the campaign.

And Mowbray admits suspensions and injuries are not helping as he looks to end Boro’s three-year absence from the Premier League.

Mowbray added: “The difficult period has arrived. Three defeats in the league is not something we wanted, yet we need to pick it up very quickly and try to reproduce what we did in December. We need to find that sort of form quickly. When you are losing players, it is not that easy.”

Boro dominated early on with Scott McDonald having two glorious opportunities inside the opening nine minutes.

He latched onto a mistake from Sammy Clingan only to volley straight at Joe Murphy before the Sky Blues stopper produced a magnificent save to deny the same player moments later.

Murphy continued to impress as another flowing Middlesbrough move culminated in a Joe Bennett drive which was tipped over by the Republic of Ireland international.

The dynamics of the game then shifted significantly when the hosts broke the deadlock in the 36th minute as Alex Nimely fed McSheffrey to slot home from inside the area.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men moments later when Thomson, who had been harshly booked just 11 minutes earlier for bringing down Cyrus Christie, was shown a second yellow card.

The midfielder could have no complaints over his second caution as he flew in with his studs showing to bring down goalscorer McSheffrey.

The game threatened to boil over in the aftermath of Thomson’s dismissal and that prompted Coventry boss Andy Thorn to substitute Gary Deegan, on a yellow card, for Bell at half-time.

Nimely, making his first appearance since joining on loan from Manchester City, failed to score during his time with Boro but he headed home 57 minutes into his Coventry career.

Boro felt the ball had not crossed the line as a defender hooked it clear but the assistant referee was perfectly placed to award the goal.

Nimely was involved in the third goal seven minutes later as he released Bell out wide and his first time cross was touched in by Bates with Clive Platt in

Boro responded instantly when Marvin Emnes’ driven cross was nodded in by McDonald and manager Tony Mowbray attempted to rally his troops with a triple change.

But Coventry used their extra man advantage to close out the game as Middlesbrough’s dismal afternoon was completed in stoppage time when Arca earned their second red card for his crude lunge on Clingan.

Coventry: Murphy, Christie, Keogh, Cranie, Hreidarsson, Clingan, Thomas, Deegan (Bell 46), McSheffrey, Nimely, Platt (Eastwood 79). Subs Not Used: Dunn, Baker, Wood. Booked: Deegan, Hreidarsson. Goals: McSheffrey 36, Nimely 57, Bates 64 og.

Middlesbrough: Coyne, Bennett (McManus 69), Bates, Rhys Williams (Smallwood 70), Hoyte (McMahon 70), Thomson, Haroun, Robson, Arca, McDonald, Emnes. Subs Not Used: Ripley, Martin. Sent Off: Thomson (39), Arca (90). Booked: Thomson, Rhys Williams, Robson. Goals: McDonald 66.

Att: 14, 112 Ref: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire).