Dave Jones is bracing himself to be without Liam Donnelly for the rest of the season.
The defender was sent off in stoppage time in Hartlepool United’s costly 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient following a shameful confrontation with the referee.
Pools were incensed that Dean Whitestone gave a goal-kick when they were convinced a Nathan Thomas shot had been deflected for a corner.
Donnelly chased after the referee, remonstrating with him and earning a booking.
The Northern Ireland U21 international did not back down and instead squared up to the official, who showed him a second yellow and then a red.
He was lucky it was not a straight red.
Ordinarily, two yellow cards would constitute a one-match ban, ruling him out of Saturday’s home match with Barnet.
But Jones suspects it could be a steeper punishment.
“Depending on the referee report, it might be more than that [one game],” said the boss.
“He’ll have to answer for what he’s done. It was stupid.”
Jones explained that he could not bring himself to talk to the 20-year-old after the game.
“What Liam does, I can’t bring myself to ask him what he was doing,” he said.
“I know he’s upset [about the decision], but you can’t square up to the referee like that.
“I’ve not seen anything that for a long, long time.”