Belfast Telegraph

First Jonny Evans, now Chris Brunt lands in trouble with the FA

By Steven Beacom

Chris Brunt is the latest Northern Ireland star to find himself in trouble with the Football Association.

Manchester United's Jonny Evans was banned by the authorities for six games, having been found guilty of spitting at Newcastle's Papiss Cisse, and now West Bromwich Albion's Brunt is facing suspension after the FA charged him with abusing an official at the end of Saturday night's controversial FA Cup quarter-final between the Baggies and Aston Villa.

It is understood that 30-year-old Brunt clashed with the match referee Anthony Taylor as the players made their way to the dressing rooms.

A statement released by the FA last night said: "It is alleged that in or around the tunnel area after the end of the fixture the player used abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards a Match Official."

Brunt has been given until Thursday night at 6.00pm to respond to the charge.

Northern Ireland pal Evans could tell him all about that drill.

The Manchester United defender strongly denied an FA charge that he spat at Newcastle forward Cisse during last Wednesday's Premier League game at St James' Park, but it didn't do him any good as he was punished with a lengthy suspension, which began last night when Arsenal visited Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

After being charged, Brunt knows that there is a very real chance that he too will miss crucial upcoming games for his club, with a two-game suspension a possible outcome.

If that is imposed Brunt would be absent for league games at home to Stoke on Saturday and away to champions Manchester City on March 21, before joining up with the Northern Ireland squad for a friendly in Scotland and a vital Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland at Windsor Park.

Brunt is considering requesting a personal hearing where he would then explain his actions, after what was a highly charged Cup tie, in a bid to reduce any punishment.

With club captain Darren Fletcher unavailable, former Sheffield Wednesday ace Brunt, previously the WBA skipper before the Scottish midfielder arrived from Manchester United in January, reclaimed the armband at the weekend for the game at Villa Park.

The match, which Villa won 2-0, was marred by pitch invasions from home supporters before and after the final whistle.

The FA are currently conducting an investigation, and liaising with both clubs, about the pitch invasions and crowd trouble that occurred at the ground, which saw some away fans rip seats out and throw them on to the pitch.

WBA were furious that their players were put in danger with thousands of opposing supporters racing on to the playing area.

As the captain, Brunt was particularly upset at what his team-mates had to deal with in making their way back to the tunnel once the full-time whistle had been blown.

He and manager Tony Pulis were also unhappy with decisions made by referee Taylor, who sent off Claudio Yacob when Villa led 1-0 with most feeling it was a harsh call.

The official also red carded Villa youngster Jack Grealish in dubious circumstances, though by then Tim Sherwood's side were 2-0 ahead.

Should Brunt be banned for two matches, it would mean he and Evans would have played no football for over a fortnight leading into Northern Ireland's double header.

Belfast Telegraph

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