Sat on a chair in a room at Wednesday’s Middlewood Road training ground, Sam Hutchinson pleaded guilty to his “stupid” habit of collecting yellow cards.
After all, Hutchinson has already served two suspensions this season, having accrued an astonishing 10 cautions in 15 matches. No player in the land has been booked more times than him.
Many of Hutchinson’s indiscretions have been mistimed challenges. Stricter referees could have quite easily sent him for an early bath for poor tackles in their televised fixtures at home to Hull City and Arsenal.
His latest ban, allied to the third international break, has culminated in Hutchinson not featuring since November 7. He was taken off at half-time against Charlton Athletic because boss Carlos Carvalhal feared he would pick up a second yellow card and be sent off.
His manager and teammates have repeatedly defended the 26-year-old’s poor disciplinary record. Carvalhal is convinced Hutchinson would not be as influential if he changed his all action playing style. His ability to disrupt opponents rhythm and keep things ticking over nicely in the centre have been sorely missed in recent weeks.
But the defensive midfielder was in the dock and put under the microscope yesterday afternoon. The assembled media listened to a compelling narrative, hearing Hutchinson candidly confess to his crimes.
He claims he is still learning his midfield role but has vowed to mature.
“It’s my own stupidness, to be honest and I need to grow up a little bit,” Hutchinson said. “I am enthusiastic and want to win for the team and the fans and most importantly myself as you want to progress in your career.
“Some of the tackles have been stupid and overenthusiastic. I’ll try and change it. I think I can.
“I am obviously learning the position as for 17 years, I was a right-back or centre-back at Chelsea. I can definitely change it. Apart from Leeds where it was an accumulation of fouls, the last three bookings have been stupid and rash.
“It was a two-footed tackle against Arsenal, a stupid tackle against Hull and a booking against Rotherham for diving; I tried to dive out of the way and I can’t dive to save my life!
“But I need to eradicate the bad tackles. I can tackle and have done all my life. I never really got booked at Chelsea and occasionally got booked at Forest, although I didn’t really play enough games. I just need not to get stupid.
“It is just getting too excited as I am playing so many games if I am honest. I like tackling and being involved and playing football. If I stop doing it, I can play more football. It makes sense.
“Everyone has come out and backed me and I will always do a job for the team and work hard. But it is for me to change. I and they don’t want me to miss two games as we are doing alright.
“At the end of the day, it’s a squad game and everyone needs to play games. But it’s more frustrating for myself.
“It’s my fault; I would probably have been in the team and played those games if I wasn’t booked. Then again, Semi [Jose Semedo] has come in and done fantastic and everyone gets their rest and it might be a blessing as I am not used to playing this many games really.”
Hutchinson, a vital cog of Wednesday’s midfield engine room, is expected to be recalled against Stoke City tonight.
He said: “Stoke are a very good team and a quality Premier League outfit. It will be a very tough gamethey have a massive squad. They can choose from numerous players to play in different positions. But I don’t think we should worry about Stoke and concentrate on ourselves and do the jobs assigned to us by the gaffer.
“It would have been better being at home. The crowd were brilliant against Arsenal and thoroughly helped us. That was one of my best nights in football and a few of the lads said that. It was special and it would have been nice to be at home against Stoke, but the travelling support is always good.”