Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna is disappointed to be without Massimo Luongo and Brandon Williams for Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough, but stressed that rotation will be key throughout a hectic festive period.

The two players were both on four yellow cards heading into Saturday’s game against Coventry City, knowing that they would hit the cut-off point for a one-match ban if they managed to avoid a booking at Portman Road.

Luongo, however, was penalised for stopping a counterattack in the first half, with referee Andrew Kitchen’s decision leaving him visibly distressed. Williams, on the other hand, was brought off the bench in the latter stages, where he was booked for a late lunge near the corner flag.

It means that both players will miss the clash on Teesside this weekend, although they’ll be available to face Watford at Vicarage Road next Tuesday, which McKenna believes will help freshen them up ahead of a difficult run.

“That’s football,” he admitted after the 2-1 win against the Sky Blues. “The players had to play the game properly or else we wouldn’t have been able to compete in the game.

“Massimo makes the foul. They had a lot of bodies in the middle of the pitch in the first half.

"Sam [Morsy] did terrific, then he [Luongo] goes to make a tackle and I thought he got the ball watching it live, but I haven’t seen it back. Yellow card.

“Brandon gets a yellow card, it is what it is. We’ve got Middlesbrough next Saturday, but we’ve got Watford two days later away from home.

“It’s an incredibly tough double-header, but at least we’ll have two fresh players come Tuesday.

“We’re going to need some rotation, certainly when you look at Middlesbrough, Watford, Norwich. Then you look at Leeds, Leicester, QPR and Stoke in the space of nine days. We’re going to need to rotate.

“I’m sure Massimo would’ve liked to have played against his former team, but he misses the game, so it’ll be someone else’s opportunity.”

Wes Burns, who also went into the Coventry game with four yellow cards to his name, managed to avoid a one-match ban.

Sam Morsy served his suspension against Huddersfield Town at the end of September, but he'll be given a two-match ban if he picks up two more bookings between now and matchday 37, with eight to his name in just 18 league games.