The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Luke Baker

AS­TON Villa boss Steve Bruce be­lieves Leandro Bacuna’s pun­ish­ment is un­nec­es­sar­ily harsh af­ter the mid­fielder was given a six-match ban for phys­i­cally abus­ing a match of­fi­cial.

Bacuna was sent off when he de­lib­er­ately barged his chest into as­sis­tant ref­eree Mark Rus­sell dur­ing in­jury-time of Villa’s 1-0 win over Derby last week­end.

The straight red card earned the 25-year-old a three-match ban, and he was handed an ad­di­tional three games by the FA af­ter plead­ing guilty to the vi­o­lent con­duct charge.

Black­burn’s 25-year-old mid­fielder Hope Ak­pan was re­cently given a fourgame ban for push­ing ref­eree Scott Dun­can dur­ing Rovers’ de­feat to Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

And, while Bruce was quick to con­demn the ac­tions of Bacuna, he was frus­trated by the dis­par­ity of pun­ish­ment be­tween his man and Ak­pan.

“We were hon­est and open enough at the time to say that Leandro over­stepped the mark,” said Bruce. “We fined him the max­i­mum.

“But I have to say the FA’s pun­ish­ment is a bit harsh. When I con­sider the lad at Black­burn, two or three weeks ago, pushed the ref­eree in a sim­i­lar sort of in­ci­dent and he only got an (ad­di­tional) one-game ban, I feel per­son­ally that it’s a bit harsh.

“I will meet with (Villa tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor) Steve Round and (Villa CEO) Keith Wy­ness on Thurs­day af­ter­noon to see if there are grounds for ap­peal.”

Bacuna’s red card was his first send­ing off since mov­ing to Villa Park from Dutch side Gronin­gen in the sum­mer of 2013.

But that didn’t stop the FA com­ing down hard on the Cu­ra­cao in­ter­na­tional.

A state­ment read: “He ad­mit­ted his be­hav­iour con­sti­tuted vi­o­lent con­duct in cir­cum­stances where the stan­dard pun­ish­ment of three matches would be clearly in­suf­fi­cient.”

BARGE: Leandro Bacuna

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