Roy defends sent-off debutant

TOM Eastman was understandably upset to be sent off, in what was the biggest game of his life.

But manager Roy Keane was not attaching any great blame on his 18-year-old rookie defender, whom he felt was desperately unlucky to be dismissed for two bookable offences in yesterday’s 3-0 defeat to Sheffield United.

Eastman, a product of Town’s Academy, became the first Town player to be sent off on his debut, after being flashed a second yellow card and ensuing red by referee Andy D’Urso.

“Tom is a bit upset. He’s upset by the fact that he’s been sent off on his debut, but he’s got a decent head on him,” revealed Keane.

“He’s a good lad and I think he did reasonably well.

“I don’t think he got great help around him. We’re talking about lads who should have been trying to help him through his first game, but he got no help out there.

“Tom will learn from it. I’ve just told him I don’t know whether to fine him one week or two weeks (wages), but that’s his only concern.

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“He’s not a nasty boy, as anyone watching him come up through the youths will testify,” added Keane.

Booked for tugging back Blades defender Nyron Nosworthy in the 41st minute, centre-half Eastman was then sent off on 59 minutes for a foul on winger Matthew Lowton.

Keane was not impressed by the punishment dished out by referee Mr D’Urso.

“I think it was a bit harsh on Tom,” continued Keane.

“For the second booking, he definitely got a touch on the ball, as well as the man.

“I really think the referee should have given the boy the benefit of the doubt.

“I felt that he couldn’t wait to send him off, instead of having a quick word with him, and understanding that he’s a young lad, the position on the field it was, and the fact that he got a touch on the ball.

“That’s why I’m disappointed for the player, because I don’t think he deserved it.

“I will criticise a player if he gets sent off when it’s deserved, but the young boy deserved the benefit of the doubt. It’s human nature, he’s just coming into the game.

“But listen, no one died, in terms of the sending off,” said a reflective Keane.

George O’Callaghan was sent off on his full Town debut, during first-half stoppage time in an FA Cup fourth round tie at Watford on February 17, 2007.

Midfielder O’Callaghan was dismissed for allegedly kicking out at Hornets defender Danny Shittu. Watford, who at the time were in the Premier League, won 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Damien Francis.

But although this was O’Callaghan’s full debut, he had appeared as a substitute in four previous matches.

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