Sunderland AFC news: Dan Ballard walking yellow card tightrope ahead of Middlesbrough and Plymouth Argyle games

Sunderland defender Dan Ballard is walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of a potential two-game suspension.
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Sunderland defender Dan Ballard is walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of the Black Cats' upcoming games against Middlesbrough and Plymouth Argyle.

Sunderland are next in action against Middlesbrough at the Riverside in the Championship this coming Sunday. Beale's side will then face Plymouth Argyle at the Stadium of Light on February 10 with the Black Cats looking to avenge their losses to the same opposition earlier this season.

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Ballard, however, is sitting on nine yellow cards after receiving a caution against Stoke City on Saturday as Michael Beale's side ran out 3-1 winners at the Stadium of Light. Should Ballard pick up a tenth yellow card in the coming games, the ex-Arsenal defender will be forced to serve a two-match ban.

The cut-off point for players nearing 10 yellow cards in the Championship arrives on the 38th game and Sunderland have played just 29, leaving Ballard in an awkward position. FA rules also state that If a player is yellow carded 20 times during their league season, then they will be charged with misconduct.

There has been some confusion previously surrounding how many cards Ballard has to his name this season - a situation which dates back to Sunderland's game against Norwich City earlier this season.

The former Arsenal defender has picked up nine yellow cards this campaign with cautions coming against Ipswich Town, Preston North End, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Swansea City, Millwall, West Brom, Bristol City and Stoke City.

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However, many outlets had Ballard mistakenly down as booked against Norwich City earlier this season when it was Pierre Ekwah who was shown the yellow card during the Championship fixture back in October, which Sunderland won 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.

At the time, The Echo received confirmation that it was teammate Ekwah booked in the first half of the clash following Norwich City's opening goal and not Ballard, which means the central defender is on eight yellows currently and not nine.

Defensive teammate Luke O'Nien is also on eight yellow cards and just two cautions away from a two-game ban after picking up warnings during games against Coventry City away, Southampton, Leicester City, Norwich City, Swansea City, Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United and then Coventry City at home.