Lee Bowyer banned for challenge on Bacary Sagna

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The Independent Football

Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer will be suspended for the next three matches after accepting a Football Association charge of violent conduct for a challenge on Arsenal's Bacary Sagna.

Referee Peter Walton confirmed to the FA that if he had seen the challenge he would have sent Bowyer off during Saturday's Premier League clash at St Andrew's.

Bowyer will now miss tonight's Barclays Premier League fixture at Blackpool, the FA Cup trip to Millwall on Saturday and next Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final, first leg at West Ham.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish told the club's official website: "We accept the decision and will now have to move forward into the next three games without the services of Bowyer.

"We have got a good discipline record at this club and stress to the players every week how important discipline is."

Television replays highlighted the incident - Bowyer standing on Sagna while the Arsenal player was grounded near the touchline - in the aftermath of Arsenal's 3-0 success.

Bowyer, 34, will be back for the derby clash with Aston Villa at St Andrew's on January 16.

Blues manager Alex McLeish has already indicated he has no problems with trial by television, providing it focuses on all controversial incidents.

He highlighted a late challenge by Gunners midfielder Samir Nasri on City captain Stephen Carr which did not come under the same sort of scrutiny from the cameras.

McLeish also praised the maturity shown by Bowyer during his three seasons with Blues after leaving Upton Park.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger preferred not to highlight Bowyer's challenge after the game.

On hearing the news Bowyer had been suspended, Wenger said: "Well the FA had a look at it and decided to charge him. I don't think I have any special comment to make on that.

"They judged him guilty and we have all to accept it."

The Arsenal manager, preparing for tomorrow's clash against Manchester City, felt the right decision had been made.

"I think even Bowyer will accept that," Wenger said. "He made a mistake, he has been punished and he will accept it."

The Gunners boss rejected suggestions by Birmingham manager McLeish they were one of the clubs who were not scrutinised as much.

"I just think the FA has to pick out any incident and punish every single club," Wenger said.

"I believe usually the media single out more the bigger clubs because they are more in the spotlight - but the FA has just to be objective and try to punish everybody no matter where he comes from. For every bad or violent player.

"If you want to sum it up I don't believe we have any favours from the media, no."