By Keith Hackett

16th Nov, 2021 | 7:00am

Ex-Premier League referee hails Sunderland after Flanagan transformation

Keith Hackett has hailed Sunderland for their management of Tom Flanagan after he returned from suspension.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Fifa and Premier League referee also suggested the footballing authorities should bring in sin bins after its trial in grassroots.

Flanagan picked up five yellow cards in five consecutive League One games after being cautioned in Sunderland’s second game of the season.

He then missed their dramatic 2-2 draw with Simon Grayson’s Fleetwood in September as a result.

Since then, he has only picked up one yellow card in eight League One games.

“He’s probably had some operational advice,” Hackett told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“There is a line where you can be overenthusiastic and something in the game can trigger frustration.

“The manager can play an influence. I’ve seen players have been docile, to some degree, in the first half and then at half-time, clearly, the manager has given them all a rollicking and they come out as a totally different team.

“That’s all part of referee education, things can change, either at a break in the game or a substitution.

“At the end of the day, players can pick up yellow cards easily. Having time off is a time for reflection.

“One of the things football has got to consider is, at grassroots level the use of sin bins has been quite successful.

“I wonder in the professional environment, somehow the authorities should be saying is the ideal sanction a sin bin?”

Flanagan returns to domestic action when Sunderland host Ipswich Town at the weekend.

The 30-year-old is currently away with the Northern Ireland squad.

In other news, Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Preston North End are racing to sign a Sunderland star.