Linfield boss David Jeffrey has voiced his “frustration” after it was confirmed that Sean Ward and Philip Lowry will miss the club’s potential title decider with Cliftonville on March 29.
The influential duo discovered this week that they will have to serve a one-match suspension from Monday, March 24.
It is a significant blow for the Blues ahead of the titanic showdown with Tommy Breslin’s Reds at Windsor Park.
Linfield currently lead the champions by two points with just seven games remaining this season.
“I’ve got to say I’m highly frustrated by these suspensions coming in at this time of the season,” Jeffrey told Linfield’s official website.
“My frustration is simply borne out of the fact that the two bookings that brought them up to the first disciplinary point were in my opinion, neither bookings nor free kicks.
“When I think of some of the challenges that our players have been subjected to this season, I’m highly disappointed that what at best were in my view, fairly innocuous challenges were punished by yellow cards and this in turn, has led to them being suspended.”
First up for Linfield is Saturday’s game with Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park (3pm).
“As we enter the closing weeks of the season, it’s important for the squad to be as tight and together as possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, champions Cliftonville travel to Stangmore Park to face Warrenpoint Town today.
Boss Tommy Breslin has a fully fit squad to choose from for the latest acid test.
“It is great not having anyone on the treatment table,” the Reds boss said.
“We haven’t had a cough of sniffle which is great news - hopefully it continues as we will need as many players as we can between now and the end of the season.”
Also on Saturday Glenavon take onColeraine at Mourneview Park. Crusaders entertain Ballymena United while Portadown travel to bottom club Ards and Ballinamallard United host Glentoran at Ferney Park.