Fonte queries Marriner appointment
Southampton defender Jose Fonte believes Andre Marriner should have been dropped after last weekend's high-profile gaffe as the referee prepares to officiate Saints' Barclays Premier League clash with Newcastle.
The official was caught up in a bizarre case of mistaken identity in Chelsea's 6-0 defeat of Arsenal, sending off Kieran Gibbs rather than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a deliberate handball.
Marriner apologised for the mistake at Stamford Bridge, which led the Football Association to transfer the sanction to Oxlade-Chamberlain and then overturn the decision as he had not technically prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Despite that, Professional Game Match Officials Limited decided to give Marriner a chance to get over the mistake in Saints' clash with Alan Pardew's side - a match centre-back Fonte does not think he should be refereeing.
"It is a question for debate, personally my opinion is yes (referees should be held accountable for mistakes)," the Portuguese said. "If we make mistakes as players, we are punished. We get dropped.
"I think obviously some might argue that it is good or not, but I personally think they should get dropped as well and don't referee for a couple of weeks to realise what went wrong.
"I don't know, I just think when the mistake is very, very bad you need to stop and think what can I do better."
Fonte's comments will likely cause ripples, yet he insists the fact Marriner is taking charge is no "big issue" to the players.
"He has a tough job to do," he said. "I am sure he will want to be perfect on Saturday and we players need to focus on our game, so there is not much that we can say about that."
Southampton have a lengthy injury list heading into the clash.
Jay Rodriguez (knee), Morgan Schneiderlin (hip muscles), Victor Wanyama (leg) and Steven Davis (groin) are all doubts for the encounter at St Mary's.
Nathaniel Clyne (groin), Kelvin Davis (hip) and Maya Yoshida (knee) are definitely absent, with the latter facing six weeks out.
Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul is out of the trip and facing several weeks on the sidelines.
The Holland international suffered a knee injury in Tuesday night's 3-0 home defeat by Everton and will sit out up to three games, with Rob Elliot taking his place.
Full-back Davide Santon could return after recovering from tonsillitis, but full-back Mathieu Debuchy (groin), midfielder Sammy Ameobi (ankle) and striker Loic Remy (calf) remain on the sidelines, although leading scorer Remy is due to resume full training on Monday.
There will be plenty of familiar faces for ex-Southampton boss Pardew on his return to the south coast, with Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert in particular having blossomed since he worked with them.
However, he is happy enough with his current lot as he plots a rousing end to an eventful campaign.
The Newcastle boss said: "Southampton, everybody is saying, have had a fantastic season. Well, we are still above them and we want to stay there.
"We have had that question mark ever since we got 36 points, were we just going to see the season out? That's just not the way I am, I wouldn't let that happen with this team."