Newcastle defender Mike Williamson hit with ban

Newcastle defender Mike Williamson has been handed a three-match ban for violent conduct during Saturday's match against Bolton.

Williamson had denied the charge, which related to an incident involving Wanderers striker Johan Elmander in the 5-1 defeat at the Reebok Stadium.

A statement released by the FA read: "At an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson was given a three-match suspension for violent conduct."

Williamson was charged after match referee Howard Webb reviewed video footage of the incident and later chose to lodge a denial with the FA.

Webb, who later sent off Newcastle's Argentina international Fabricio Coloccini after he felled Elmander with a flailing arm, did not see the clash at the time, but having watched replays indicated he would have produced a red card had he done so.

Williamson becomes the second man from the club to be charged with the same offence on video evidence in less than a fortnight.

Midfielder Joey Barton is currently serving a three-match ban for punching Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen in the chest during his side's 2-1 home defeat on November 10.

Should Williamson, 27, be subject to a similar punishment, manager Chris Hughton faces heading into Sunday's encounter with leaders Chelsea without the two men who have played at the heart of his defence for all 14 league games to date.

He has veteran Sol Campbell and the fit-again Steven Taylor waiting in the wings, but the former Arsenal man has had little football in recent weeks while Taylor is yet to appear this season.

Campbell's only start for his new club came in the 4-3 Carling Cup third-round victory at Chelsea on September 22.

Newcastle will at least welcome back Cheik Tiote, who was suspended for the Bolton game after picking up his fifth booking, for the visit of the champions, but they could be without Barton, Coloccini and Williamson as they attempt to bounce back from a run of three games which has yielded just a single point.

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