Sunderland hope to find out today if they will have Wes Brown available at the weekend.
Brown was sent off in the 2-0 defeat to Stoke City, and is due to miss the next three matches.
The Black Cats informed the Football Association before yesterday’s 1pm deadline that they intend to appeal, and are processing the relevant paperwork.
Although there is no timescale for the Independent Regulatory Commission to come to a decision on whether Kevin Friend was right to show the red card, they tend to act quickly.
Sunderland are therefore hopeful they might find out by the end of today where they stand.
Brown has been an integral part of Sunderland’s improved defensive form.
He was introduced as a half-time substitute at Hull City, played the whole of the wins over Southampton and Manchester City, then the first 36 minutes at the Britannia Stadium.
In that time, Sunderland conceded twice. So knowing as soon as possible if Brown will be available for Saturday’s trip to Villa Park, or if they need to work on a new back four in training will be important to Gustavo Poyet.
Valentin Roberge, who replaced Emanuele Giaccherini after Brown’s dismissal at Stoke, is the obvious candidate to step up.
In reality it is hard to see the FA upholding a decision which has been widely condemned. Yesterday former top-flight referee Dermott Gallagher joined the criticism.
“The referee has lost concentration or not seen it,” he said. “It is not a red card, that’s all you can say.
“Brown’s gone in hard but he’s entitled to do that. As a refereeing body you have to take that smack on the chin.”
Friend has been stood down from next weekend’s Premier League game and will not take charge of a Football League match either.
Meanwhile, Andrea Dossena’s agent has suggested the Italian could leave in the next transfer window.
The left-back has started just two matches this season.
He joined on deadline day with a knee injury that had scuppered some other potential moves, including one to Torino. The former Liverpool player finally made his Sunderland debut in the Wear-Tyne derby, only to be sent off halfway through the next game, at Hull City.
“This summer we had the failed transfer to Torino,” Roberto La Florio told Sportmediaset.it.
“We took the opportunity of Sunderland, but I do not exclude that he can return to Italy soon.”
Dossena, who was released by Napoli at the end of last season, is available to face Aston Villa, having served his suspension, although a lack of fitness may count against a recall.
He has missed training and would not have featured in last week’s proposed friendly against Darlington – which was anyway rained off – because of a knock.
Black Cats boss Poyet has made a great virtue of playing his squad in their prefered positions and Dossena is Sunderland’s only specialist left-back.
Right-footed Phil Bardsley has been filling in there under Poyet, who has dispensed with Paolo Di Canio and Kevin Ball’s approach of playing midfielder Jack Colback there.
That lack of alternatives and the fact Dossena is out of contract at the end of the season could encourage Poyet to ask director of football Roberto De Fanti to find him a left-back in the January transfer window.
Lee Cattermole is also back from suspension at the weekend, giving Poyet a choice to make after some impressive performances as the holding midfielder by Ki Sung-Yeung.
“There’s a bit of competition with Lee coming back,” said the South Korean, on a season-long loan from Swansea City.
“But in any position there should be competition so it’s good to push each other.
“The way we’re trying to play suits me.
“As everyone has seen over the last few games, we can pass the ball well, even under pressure.
“We proved that in the Man City match. But we need to keep going to get some good results.”