Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is facing the threat of a three-match ban which would rule him out of meetings with City and Arsenal, according to reports.
The Belgian international is waiting to discover whether his actions during a Premier League clash with Brighton will see him stung by retrospective punishment.
During a keenly fought encounter at Old Trafford, Lukaku appeared to kick out at Brighton’s Cameroonian defender Gaetan Bong.
The incident occurred at a corner which proved to be pivotal in the contest and generated many of the post-match talking points.
Lukaku had already sparked controversy in the winning of the set-piece, with Brighton boss Chris Hughton questioning the decision of the match officials after the game.
It was also from that corner, which Brighton could only half clear, that an effort from Ashley Young deflected off the unfortunate Lewis Dunk to record the only goal.
But while fortune favoured United on the day, their luck could be about to change as they sweat on Lukaku’s involvement in upcoming fixtures.
With the £75 million frontman having jostled with Bong inside the area on Saturday, the 24-year-old appeared to raise his leg towards his opponent as the ball made its way towards Young.
The match officials took no action at the time, but reports suggest that the Football Association will not be as forgiving. Former Premier League referee Graham Poll believes action will be taken, with it possible that an untimely suspension could force Lukaku to sit out crunch clashes with Arsenal on December 2 and arch-rivals Manchester City the following weekend.
Poll wrote in a column for the Daily Mail: “Romelu Lukaku must face a three-match ban once the FA view replays of the incident between the Belgian and Brighton’s Gaetan Bong just before the only goal of the game.
“Lukaku was impeded as the corner came in but his reaction was extreme, kicking out first with his right foot and then making full contact with his left foot somewhere quite painful.
“It was a violent act which would have resulted in a red card had referee Neil Swarbrick seen it. The Brighton full back did remarkably well to not react, nor complain to the officials. He deserves praise for that.
“United manager Jose Mourinho will be understandably irritated if Lukaku is banned retrospectively, but he should take comfort in the three points because the only goal of the game — Ashley Young’s deflected effort — came just after the whistle should have blown for Lukaku’s assault.”
While Lukaku would be a big miss for the Red Devils, having netted 12 times in 20 appearances for the club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has recently rejoined the ranks following a serious knee injury and would be his likely replacement.