MARK Hughes has reassured banned striker Kian Harratt: “You’re going to be a big player for us.”

Harratt must sit out Saturday’s first away trip of the season to Barrow as the first of a three-game suspension following his debut red card against Doncaster.

The substitute was sent off by ref Bobby Madden after the final whistle for raising his hands at goalkeeper Johnny Mitchell in a melee of players.

City wanted to appeal it, claiming his actions did not justify being punished for violent conduct, but had no clear footage to prove their case.

It is a big blow for the 20-year-old at the start of his season-long loan from Huddersfield but Hughes has been quick to offer a pick-me-up.

“It’s a lesson for him,” said the City boss. “I spoke to him after the game so he knows that.

“But he’s going to be involved in the majority of the games for us. He’ll be a big player.

“He was very close to starting the game last weekend and he knows that.

“Kian just has to have a little bit of patience now and it’s a shame he’s going to miss out the next three games.

“But I’m sure that will just make him more hungry to make an impact when he comes back.”

Hughes still feels Madden’s actions were “unnecessary” – and claimed the official had not even seen the incident.

He added: “I don’t know why the referee felt the need to do it.

“Whether or not somebody told him that something had happened. I don’t think he actually saw it himself.

“I think if he had done, he’d have erred on the side of common sense and wouldn’t have given it.

“But if somebody’s in your ear telling you that a player has hit another in the head, and we’re surmising that’s what’s happened, then he’s going to take a red card out even if he hasn’t seen it.

“Kian came and apologised afterwards because he felt he’d let himself down to a certain extent.

“But having seen the incident, it was something of nothing that the referee should have turned a blind eye to.

“It happened and we have to pay the consequences unfortunately.”

City felt Harratt was unfairly singled out afterwards and there was more pushing and shoving going on in the scenes that followed the end of the game.

But without the film to back it up, they decided against trying to put a case forward to the FA.