'Quite frankly...' - Exclusive: Keith Hackett verdict on Newcastle-Sheffield United flashpoint

Former FIFA referee Keith Hackett has claimed that Sheffield United defender John Egan could have been handed an “instant red card” in his side’s 3-0 loss against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the renowned official suggested that David Coote, who oversaw the clash at St. James’ Park, had acted hastily to book the 27-year-old earlier in the match, but was still justified in sending him off after the interval.

Egan was dismissed in the 50th minute for a second bookable offence after he was adjudged to have held back Magpies striker Joelinton as he looked to run through on goal.

Before half time, both players had been cautioned by Coote for a minor altercation – a decision that Blades boss Chris Wilder voiced his displeasure with during his post-match interview.

But while Hackett is inclined to agree with the 52-year-old, he has also suggested that Egan was deserving a red card nonetheless.

Speaking to Football Insider, Hackett said: “We’re looking at a competent referee in David Coote, it’s just a case of more experience on his back and he’ll talk his way out of that situation [the first booking] rather than going with the easy option of issuing cards.

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“I think a more experienced referee wouldn’t have gone for the cards so quickly.

“The penalty of that, of course, is later on when Egan brought down Joelinton and receives a second yellow. The referee decided to opt for safety first by issuing a second yellow card for the clear holding offence that was a tactical foul preventing a promising attack.

“Quite frankly, the offence fulfilled the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and Coote could have issued an instant red card.”

The 3-0 defeat was the biggest of Sheffield United’s league season to date.

For their part, Newcastle the win allowed them to move up to 13th in the table, with Steve Bruce’s men now 11 points clear of the bottom three.

In other Newcastle United news, ‘He is a great player’ – Exclusive: Kevin Phillips in awe of Toon ever-present after win.

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