RUBEN Rodrigues was taken off at half-time to make sure Oxford United ‘kept 11 players on the pitch’ against Grimsby Town, head coach Des Buckingham said.

Rodrigues was hauled off at the break, with Billy Bodin coming on in his place, after picking up a booking for dissent just before the half hour mark.

The midfielder committed a foul on the left-hand side, and when the free kick was awarded, he slammed the ball into the ground.

The ill-disciplined moment came just a week after Rodrigues was sent off in the loss at Cheltenham Town, where he received two yellow cards.

His booking against the Mariners, added to the one he collected in the first round against Maidenhead United, means Rodrigues will be suspended for the third round.

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Asked about the decision to take Rodrigues off at half-time yesterday, Buckingham responded: “It was making sure we kept 11 players on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, so that was the reason.

“We had Billy to come back in, and make sure we get minutes into him as well, so it was a combination of the two.”

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U’s midfielder Marcus McGuane said: “We’ve had a few red cards, probably silly red cards, this season.

“Ruben is one of my best mates in the team and he’s a top player. His ability is amazing and I think it’s him just keeping his head.

“He knows how good he can and how important he is for us as a team. Having Ruben on the pitch is a positive for us, so hopefully he can stay on the pitch for a little bit longer.

“I don’t want to get in too much trouble talking about the referees at our level, but I think at times, it’s very difficult to even have a conversation with them.

“For me, I don’t feel the officiating is the best at times, but we’ve got to work with what we’re given.

“At times with discipline, we need to look at each other and be more disciplined, and don’t get involved with the referees as much, and let the captain deal with it.”