Nigel Quashie will not be available to play for West Bromwich Albion until April 9 after the Football Association yesterday increased his suspension to five matches and fined him £5,000.

The midfield player, who joined Albion from Southampton for £1.2 million in January, was already serving a four-match ban for his red card against Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns ten days ago. It was his second dismissal of the campaign.

However, the FA were unhappy that Quashie used "abusive and insulting words towards a match official" while walking to the dressing-rooms and have punished the player accordingly.

He admitted a charge of misconduct and has another four weeks to consider how his actions will affect Albion's fight to avoid relegation from the Premiership.

Bryan Robson, the Albion manager, is calling on his players to avoid needless sendings-off, especially as the season is entering its most critical stage. Quashie's absence is already a problem, without the extra one-match ban.

"Losing Nigel is a problem because he would have had a big part to play," Robson said. "We cannot allow players to be getting sent off. I have to make sure my players are calm, while remaining competitive. They have to control it."

Quashie is unavailable for Albion until they play Aston Villa in a month. He was already banned for the match against Chelsea last Saturday and will also miss the matches against Birmingham City this weekend, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.

An FA disciplinary commission at Soho Square decided on further punishment for Quashie at a hearing after the player admitted the charge.

Quashie kicked George Boateng, the Middlesbrough midfield player, previously of Villa, in the back and was given a straight red card by Mike Dean.

His previous dismissal this season had been as a Southampton player against Hull City. Quashie has apologised to his team-mates and it will be a harsh lesson for the Scotland international and a significant setback to Albion's hopes of survival.

Robson said: "After the Middlesbrough game, Nigel apologised to all the staff and all the players and I said to him, 'You can't have bad discipline when things are going against you on the pitch'.

"When you do that, all you do is shoot yourself in the foot for the next few games. It is not necessarily the game where you are down to ten men but the ban he has got on top of that. That is where it can be detrimental to everyone pulling together and wanting to do well at the club."

Quashie's extra suspension was expected, with Emile Heskey, the Birmingham striker, having received the same punishment after his reaction to a red card against Arsenal last month.

While Quashie was already ineligible to face Birmingham on Saturday, news of his increased suspension has tarnished Robson's preparations for Albion's most important match of the season.

Quashie enjoyed an impressive debut for Albion against Blackburn Rovers on February 4, which Albion won 2-0, but the supporters have seen little of him.

He was part of the team that put in a wretched performance in losing 6-1 at Fulham the week after and was then sent off in the 54th minute against Middlesbrough, which Albion lost 2-0.

Zoltan Gera, the midfield player, is confident of playing some part in Albion's battle to stay in the Premiership after making his latest comeback.

The Hungary captain played the opening 45 minutes of a reserve-team match against Bolton Wanderers on Monday - his first taste of action since the FA Cup tie with Reading in early January.

He played a significant role in keeping Albion in the top flight last season but a succession of setbacks have meant that his contribution has been minimal this term.

Hernia, hand and, most recently, pelvic problems have made it a frustrating time for the 26-year-old but he can see light at the end of the tunnel at last, although he is unlikely to be ready for Saturday.

Gera said. "I still need more training and physical work because my fitness isn't too good. This is my third week of training and I still need a lot more before I'm ready.

"Once my form and fitness is better then hopefully I'll be ready because I want to play this season. I've missed pretty much five months, which is a long time for me. Last season I played virtually every game but this season I've spent a lot of time injured. It's been so frustrating because I just want to be playing." ..SUPL: