( AFP ) - Joey Barton could face a suspension after the Football Association confirmed they are investigating the Newcastle midfielder's ugly challenge on Sunderland's Dickson Etuhu.
Barton caught Etuhu in his stomach with a studs-raised tackle in Saturday's 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light, but no foul was given at the time by referee Martin Atkinson.
The FA can issue a violent conduct charge retrospectively in instances where the match official does not notice the incident but later reports it.
If that is the case Barton could be hit with a three-game ban.
An FA spokesman said: "We will be looking to clarify with the referee whether he saw the incident or not. If not we will review the incident."