Newcastle defender Mike Williamson denies FA charge

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The Independent Football

Newcastle defender Mike Williamson has denied a Football Association charge of violent conduct against Bolton striker Johan Elmander.

A regulatory commission will hear the case tomorrow with the 27-year-old facing a three-match ban if found guilty.

An FA statement said: "Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has denied a charge of violent conduct.

"The charge relates to an incident involving Johan Elmander in his side's fixture with Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, 20 November.

"A Regulatory Commission will hear the charge on Wednesday, 24 November."

Williamson was charged yesterday after referee Howard Webb, who did not see the incident during the Magpies' 5-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Bolton, viewed video footage and decided he would have issued a red card had he done so.

The two men clashed off the ball with Elmander, who scored twice in the game, ending up in a heap on the ground.

However, Newcastle, who have spent the time since the charge was issued considering their options, have decided to contest the decision.

Manager Chris Hughton had earlier defended Williamson.

Speaking to the Evening Chronicle, he said: "It was a silly action by Mike, but I think it was the frustration of some five minutes before that when Johan Elmander pulled him down.

"It's there for everybody to see, he shouldn't have got involved. But what it was was a body-check and no more than that.

"It was a reaction to Elmander pulling him - it was a yellow card."

The Magpies' keenness to fight the charge is perhaps understandable as they face going into Sunday's clash with champions Chelsea with three key men suspended if Williamson is found guilty.

Midfielder Joey Barton is serving a three-match ban for punching Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen at the weekend - he was also charged on video evidence after referee Mike Jones failed to spot the incident - while Fabricio Coloccini was sent off by Mr Webb on Saturday after catching Elmander with a flailing arm.

The Argentinian will start his own three-match lay-off on Sunday and if he is joined on the sidelines by Williamson, that will mean Hughton is without the two men who have formed the heart of his defence in every league game to date this season.

Veteran Sol Campbell and local boy Steven Taylor are ready-made replacements, but both are desperately short of match action.

Campbell, 36, has started only one game for his latest club, although that was the 4-3 Carling Cup third round victory at Chelsea on September 22, while Taylor is yet to play a senior game this season.

He has been out of action since damaging a shoulder in pre-season, but a combination of calf and ankle problems, as well as a broken jaw allegedly suffered in a training ground incident, mean he has not made a competitive appearance since January.

Taylor is also in the final few months of his current contract having failed to agree a new deal, prompting the club to place him on the transfer list.