ROTHERHAM United will be without Matt Crooks for the next three matches after the FA turned down their appeal against the midfielder's dismissal earlier this week.
The 27-year-old received a straight red card for a 19th-minute clash of heads with Middlesbrough's Grant Hall in the Championship clash at AESSEAL New York Stadium on Wednesday.
Crooks' eyes remained on the ball at all times and the Millers asked the FA to overturn referee Darren Bond's sending-off verdict.
The game's disciplinary body have backed the official and the player is now banned for a trio of matches crucial to third-bottom Rotherham's survival hopes: today's game at Barnsley, Tuesday's trip to Brentford and next Saturday's home fixture with Blackburn Rovers.
Crooks' arm was raised in the aerial challenge but made no contact with Hall.
The Advertiser understands that the Millers were given the news yesterday afternoon and chose not to make it public as they didn't want to alert their South Yorkshire opponents to the fact that one of their key performers was sidelined.
The FA make announcements only when they rescind red cards, not when they uphold them.
Rotherham manager Paul Warne, speaking before he heard the ruling, said: "It will be a blow if he is suspended. Crooksy is a difficult player to replace.
"We don't change significantly the way we play if he's not available, but it's an important psychological boost to the other players when they see him on the pitch.
"If, say, Tottenham don't play with Harry Kane they probably still play the same way but they're just not the same team."
Bond is the referee who wrongly gave Millers striker Michael Smith his marching orders at Sheffield Wednesday in March.
That dismissal was revoked by the FA, as was one in Bond's next match: the sending-off of Barnsley's Alex Mowatt at Wycombe Wanderers.
Crooks' innocence appeared clear and the FA will face accusations that they have looked after one of their own rather than undermine the referee with a third straight rescindment.
Rotherham go into this afternoon's Oakwell showdown four points behind nearest safety rivals Derby County with two games in hand.