Alex Tettey is walking the yellow tightrope for Norwich City after picking up ninth booking of the season

Alex Tettey has been booked nine times so far this season for Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chestert

Alex Tettey has been booked nine times so far this season for Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Defensive midfield options are already stretched for Norwich City this month and things could be about to get worse for manager Alex Neil.

That is due to tough-tackling Alex Tettey picking up his ninth yellow card of the campaign, leaving him on the verge of a two-match suspension.

The Norway international was booked in the 58th minute of City's 2-2 draw with Premier League side Southampton in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, after fouling Saints winger Pierre Hojbjerg.

That clocked up his ninth yellow, in his 22nd match of the season for the Canaries.

The experienced midfielder has already served a one-match ban, after picking up his fifth caution during the 5-0 defeat at Brighton ahead of the November 30 amnesty. He now has to survive until March 12 without picking up his 10th yellow – potentially 13 matches – or he will serve a further two-game suspension.

That is far from ideal for Neil, with Graham Dorrans out for around two months with a knee injury and Youssouf Mulumbu away at the African Cup of Nations with DR Congo for at least the next three matches, leaving Tettey and Jonny Howson as his senior experienced options for the holding roles he often wants in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Promising 22-year-old Louis Thompson is back in contention but has not played since a flare up of a pelvis problem in early November. It will be a big ask for the youngster to hit the ground running and rediscover the form he was displaying straight away, making Tettey a key man.

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The 30-year-old may not have been in his best form and his combative nature is a vital part of his game – Saturday's was his 44th in 135 appearances in his City career, an average of just over one in every three games – but he is walking a tightrope.

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Championship players on nine yellow cards:

• Alex Tettey (Norwich)

• Pontus Jansson (Leeds)

• Henri Lansbury (Nottm Forest)

• Harlee Dean (Brentford)

• Greg Cunningham (Preston)

(10 yellow cards before March 12 amnesty activates two-game ban, 15 before season's end prompts three-game ban)

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