On Monday, the FA officially charged Martin Skrtel with violent conduct for an apparent stamp on Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea in the dying moments of Sunday’s match. On Tuesday, Skrtel appealed the decision, claiming the incident was accidental. Today, the FA confirmed that he has lost that appeal and will be banned for three matches.
A three match ban was the punishment originally set out by the FA’s disciplinary committee, who judged that the incident would have been worthy of a red card had referee Martin Atkinson seen it. Though Skrtel was at risk of being given a lengthier ban if he appealed, the FA considered his case to have at least enough merit for him to have challenged the ruling, even if in the end he lost.
That means he will not miss a fourth match for launching a frivolous appeal. He will still will miss league games away to Arsenal and at home against Newcastle, as well as Liverpool’s FA Cup replay against Blackburn. One of Dejan Lovren or Kolo Toure will be expected to replace Skrtel in the lineup for those matches, and which player does could say a lot about Rodgers’ plans for next season.
Toure has been rumoured to be on the verge of signing a new deal in recent weeks, and if he starts it could be a sign that Rodgers wants to keep the veteran Ivorian around for at least one more year. It could also mean that Dejan Lovren, after arriving for a hefty £20M fee last summer, could be on the chopping block after a hugely disappointing campaign.