LONDON • Sunderland manager David Moyes has confirmed that defender Patrick van Aanholt was withdrawn from the team to face Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's Premier League game because of the results of tests on his heart.
The Dutchman's pullout from the starting XI at White Hart Lane barely 30 minutes before kick-off sparked a series of conspiracy theories, but Moyes revealed yesterday that he had been advised not to play the full-back by cardiologists.
The doctors detected some problems after tests that the Dutchman had undertaken recently when suffering with a virus.
Moyes said: "He had the statutory checks with the cardiologists and the FA panel of cardiologists looked at it and advised us really late on Sunday that he should not play until further tests had taken place."
While Moyes had no hesitation in taking the action he did for the benefit of both the player and the club, he was concerned at the late notification of a potential issue.
He said: "We are just surprised that the FA panel (which has some access to players' medical records) didn't contact me or contact my doctor until 3.55pm on Sunday afternoon. I have never in my career been put in a situation like that ever, so we had that to deal with.
"We just can't understand why the message would come to us at that time, 30 minutes before the kick-off.
"It was completely outside our control, but it was in our control because we knew we had to make the correct decision for the player and for the football club. We had to do that."
The FA was probably concerned after non-League footballer Daniel Wilkinson, 26, collapsed on the field during the second half of Shaw Lane AFC's game against Brighouse Town in the Integro League Cup and died later in hospital on Sept 12.
Van Aanholt has now had further tests and will travel to London with the rest of the squad for today's League Cup third-round clash with Queens Park Rangers, although Moyes is yet to make a decision on whether or not he will be involved.
The Scot, who is happy the player has recovered mentally from a worrying experience, said: "He's had some further tests and will travel to London with us, and we will make a decision on that a little bit later."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE