The Bolton captain, Kevin Nolan, marks his return from a three-match suspension for foul and abusive language today by appealing to referees to be more tolerant of swearing in football, but admits players have to share the blame for the current spate of red cards.
Nolan was dismissed during an extraordinary finale at Ewood Park last month when protesting against two penalties that the referee Mike Dean awarded to Blackburn, who missed both as Bolton held on to win.
The controversy surrounding the red card shown to the Everton striker James McFadden by Graham Poll this week has stirred a debate over what is acceptable language and, though with an obvious vested interest, the 24-year-old Nolan believes the football authorities should make greater allowance for industrial language.
"We're in danger at this moment that, if he hears a swear word or something wrong, the referee is just going to give you a straight red. That's where we're going," said Nolan. "As players we have got to realise that referees are under a lot of pressure because, if players are seen giving the ref stick, the referees will be marked down by assessors and they'll be demoted. So they're under a lot of pressure, too.
"It's not about players showing referees more respect because we do show them respect already, but the refs have got to get involved in the game. They've got to realise that a lot of players are emotional and they may get a bit of an ear bashing from time to time."
Though desperate to return from his suspension to halt Bolton's losing run, Nolan's comeback at Sheffield United today could be postponed if his fiancée, Hayley, goes into labour with the couple's first child.
"I've spoken with the gaffer and if the baby does arrive early then I will miss the game," said Nolan. "After 1.30pm my phone [is switched off], otherwise it'll have to be announced over the Tannoy."