VICTOR Wanyama is the first Saints player this season to be walking a disciplinary tightrope.

The combative £12.5m midfielder picked up his fourth booking in 12 Premier League games during Saints’ 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.

All the ever-present Kenyan’s yellow cards – against West Ham, Swansea, Manchester United and now the Gunners – have been for fouls and he is now just one more booking away from an automatic one-game suspension.

And that could cause manager Mauricio Pochettino a central midfield headache with Jack Cork – the obvious replacement should Wanyama be suspended – currently sidelined through injury.

If Wanyama is booked in this Sunday’s trip to Chelsea, he will miss the following Wednesday’s home clash with Aston Villa.

Should he be cautioned against Villa, he would miss the mouth-watering home clash three days later with free-scoring Manchester City.

Cork missed the trip to The Emirates following an ankle injury he sustained at training.

Pochettino did not put any timescale on the midfielder’s injury when he revealed Cork’s problem last week.

Wanyama, as revealed in the Daily Echo last Saturday, has committed more fouls than anyone else in the Premier League this season.

The three he was picked up for at Arsenal took his seasonal tally to 32.

He is certainly no stranger to picking up bookings – having collected 15 while playing for Celtic last season, as well as two red cards.

Wanyama was first red carded during his two-season stay in Scotland in March 2012 when playing in the Glasgow derby.

He was sent off against a Rangers side that included his current St Mary’s colleague, Steven Davis, for a two-footed lunge at Steven Whittaker.

Jose Fonte picked up his third booking of the Premier League season at Arsenal, while Morgan Schneiderlin is on two bookings for the term.