Griffin pays costly price for moment of madness

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The Independent Football

The Newcastle United full-back Andy Griffin has apologised to the club over the sending-off which could mean he will not play another first-team game this year.

The 24-year-old defender was dismissed after retaliating to a challenge while on reserve-team duty against Aston Villa, a response which sparked a mass brawl on the pitch. The Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, immediately handed the player the maximum fine of a fortnight's wages, leaving him in little doubt as to how costly his moment of madness had been to both himself and the club.

Griffin will be suspended for Tottenham Hotspur's visit to St James' Park a week on Saturday and the subsequent trips to Charlton Athletic and Leicester City, and with Aaron Hughes the man currently in possession of the right-back spot, he is unlikely to return to the side for the clash with Liverpool this weekend.

That means he will probably not play again until 28 December at the earliest, when Blackburn Rovers head to Tyneside, and he is fully aware of the extent of his punishment.

"I let a lot of people down and I'm disappointed with that," he said. "Things like this happen every now and again in football, but obviously you don't want them to happen to you.

"It was a mistake on my behalf and I apologise for that. All I can say is hopefully it won't happen again. I'm going to miss three games this month, which is very disappointing, but I've got to face up to the punishment. It was my fault. Life is a learning curve, and you live and learn by these things."

Griffin has had his fair share of frustration during almost six years on Tyneside with injuries severely limiting his involvement.

He has enjoyed something of a resurgence under Robson and played in the Champions' League last season, when his winning goal against Juventus rekindled his side's challenge.

However, Hughes' reliability, the continuing emergence of the French left-back Olivier Bernard and yet another niggling injury to Griffin have taken their toll recently.

Griffin is in the early stages of new contract talks and acknowledges that his misdemeanour will do his cause no favours.

"I don't want to leave Newcastle United," he said. "I've been here almost six years, and I hope that continues. I've got a lot of friends, I get on well with all the lads and I don't want that to change. I've got my fingers crossed that something can get sorted out."

Griffin would be able to talk to clubs from 1 January if he does not agree a new deal.