PAOLO Di Canio says his players must get the balance right between aggression and recklessness, after watching a second Sunderland player red-carded in as many matches.
Craig Gardner’s studs-up challenge on Charlie Adam last night means he joins Stephane Sessegnon – sent off against Aston Villa the previous week – in the sin-bin sitting out the remaining two matches.
And Di Canio said: “We have to be careful because we cannot afford to be losing players every week – especially with the size squad that we have.
“I want my players to have passion, but it has to be channelled correctly.
“We have players like John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar for example, who are intelligent and composed and yet still very passionate and their team-mates need to follow that example.”
Di Canio did not take Gardner to task last night. But he will be driving home to the midfielder and the rest of the squad the need to be disciplined.
“Craig is an amazing professional, but it is important that he and our other players control their aggression,” he continued.
“I did not speak with him about it after the game because then was not the time – he already feels bad. He is very down and says sorry but we have to concentrate on the game only.
“It is another mistake for us, it can happen, but we have to be wary of them costing us.
“And for me, I have to focus only on the players who are available to me, rather than the ones who are not.”