AS if losing to Birmingham City wasn't bad enough at the weekend - Sunderland are also facing the loss of one of their key performers for the next two games.

To compound the Black Cats' disappointment at St Andrew's, Dan Ballard picked up a tenth booking of the season for a second-half tackle on Birmingham forward Tyler Roberts.

The centre-half will now have to sit out the forthcoming matches against Swansea and Norwich.

"It's obviously frustrating," said Ballard. "I know I've been on the threshold for a while now so I've had to be a little bit more cautious.

"The way I play I tend to pick up more bookings than others. I didn't feel it was a booking today, but there have been many like that this season.

"It's frustrating having to miss games. I never go to hurt players or whatever so it is frustrating but they are the rules so I'll miss the next two unfortunately.


"When you play most games, most players will sort of get up to that tally. It does feel, I don't know if harsh is the right word, but it's extremely frustrating."

Saturday's defeat leaves Sunderland in tenth position in the table, four points off the play-off positions, and means they have now won just one of their last 12 away games.

"We did have a really good first half, which again makes it frustrating," said Ballard. "We knew at half-time we needed to do the same thing but they changed, they pressed us a lot higher and I think we struggled to keep the ball and struggled to change to go a little bit more long ball and keep the pressure off us.

"Of course they are chasing the game so can throw a lot more at it and we never caught them on the break to finish the game."