SIMON Walton is set to miss the next three matches of Hartlepool United’s relegation run-in after his dismissal during the 2-0 defeat to MK Dons.
And the midfielder could be joined on the sidelines by Ritchie Humphreys (calf) and hamstring victims Evan Horwood and Antony Sweeney for Monday’s trip to Stevenage (kick-off 3pm).
Walton was shown a straight red by referee Jeremy Simpson having appeared to stamp on Dons midfielder Patrick Bamford early in the second half.
Replays, however, suggest the sending-off was harsh, and Pools boss John Hughes agreed with the club set to appeal.
“There was certainly contact,” he reflected.
“But having seen it back I’d say it was a soft sending-off.
“The referee took his time and I was surprised when it was a red card.
“I can understand why the referee has given it but I still think he hasn’t stamped on him, it’s soft.
“Simon has worked hard and turned the crowd around, so I’m not going to criticise him.”
Pools were trailing to Bamford’s sixth-minute opener when Walton was given his marching orders.
The Chelsea loanee had danced clear of three defender to give his side the lead before Dean Bowditch made sure of the points with a fine curler just after the hour mark.
And Hughes, whose side are without a goal in seven matches, went on: “The red card had a massive bearing on the game because it would have even been hard 11 versus 11.
“It was a difficult day losing Humphs in the warm-up and then Sweens and Evan before the second half.
“I feel for the boys because they run themselves into the ground.
“I can’t fault the effort or commitment but it’s so evident we lack a goal threat.
“We seem to run out of ideas and just hope that something will happen.
“I felt we gave it a go in the first half but we were playing against a good side and it was tough.
“The biggest disappointment was the goals that we lost.
“The first one he seemed to waltz past two or three players, it was a terrible goal to concede.
“The second one was just a long ball over the top and it was two against three.
“So that was frustrating for me.”