Stoke City: Don't ban Glenn Whelan, says former Potter James O'Connor
FORMER Stoke favourite James O'Connor wants Glenn Whelan's sending off at the weekend overlooked to prevent him being banned for the start of the new season.
Whelan could face a one-match ban on the opening day of the Premier League campaign if the referee submits a report on the red card he dished out to the Ireland international for squaring up to O'Connor on Saturday.
The flashpoint came during the second half of Stoke's 1-0 friendly victory at Orlando City here in Florida.
Whelan was shown two yellow cards by referee Marcos Deoliveira after first barging into Orlando striker Rodrigo Lopez – and then going nose-to-nose with O'Connor a split second later.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
O'Connor, like Whelan a Dubliner, said after the game that Whelan should never have been dismissed – and certainly should not be banned from Stoke's first top-flight fixture at Premier League new boys Reading on August 18.
"I don't know what the referee was thinking," said O'Connor, who played more than 200 games for City between 1996 and 2003 and has been in Orlando since January.
"If you're going to send somebody off in a friendly, you should turn to their bench and tell them to substitute them instead.
"I'd be really disappointed if he ended up being suspended, we don't want that to happen.
"Nothing really happened. We just both want to win, that's all, and it's a shame the referee didn't use his common sense."
O'Connor, aged 32, insisted there was no previous bad blood with his countryman.
"It's been a great time for Glenn and for Stoke, and I only wish them all the best," said the former West Brom, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder.
City boss Tony Pulis said he was mystified by the red-card decision.
"There was worse than that which went on out there," he explained.
"But I don't want to criticise because who wants to be a referee? You have to accept the decisions they make."
He is now hoping Whelan's sending off does not have any repercussions with a ban for the league campaign.
He added: "It was a friendly away from the UK , so I'm hoping it (the red card) doesn't affect us."
Pulis reported that striker Cameron Jerome and full-back Marc Wilson were suffering from knee injuries after they were replaced by two players who had already been substituted themselves.
The referee initially refused Ryan Shotton re-entry back on to the pitch, but Pulis remonstrated to ensure Stoke weren't down to nine men following Whelan's earlier departure.
"I just said to the ref we might as well pack it in if we are down to nine," he said.
"I said we are here to entertain 10,000 people and if you make it nine men it's not worth it."
Stoke, who won with a Jon Walters goal at the Citrus Bowl, flew out of Orlando yesterday and arrived in Kansas City ahead of Wednesday's final game of their American tour.
Ref takes centre stage in American friendly: Pages 42&43
STOKE'S Under-21 side continued their pre-season build up with a 4-1 victory over League One side Notts County.