Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy has pleaded guilty to a charge of serious foul play.

The Football Association charge related to his challenge on Arsenal’s Ashley Cole during Sunday’s fiery Premier League encounter. The Dutch striker has been given a three-match ban

Van Nistelrooy admitted: “I accept the charge brought by the FA and I take full responsibility.”

His ban started with immediate effect, meaning he was unavailable for Tuesday’s Carling Cup game at Crewe. Van Nistelrooy is also likely to miss Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth and the game against Manchester City on 7 November.

Van Nistelrooy added: “Throughout my 10-year career I believe my disciplinary record is very good, not only for Manchester United but at all clubs.”

“There was no deliberate intent to harm Ashley Cole and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to him,” he said.

A statement from United said: “Ruud van Nistelrooy has decided to accept the FA’s charge of misconduct relating to the incident with Ashley Cole.

“Ruud has accepted the automatic penalty of a three-match suspension and Manchester United fully supports Ruud’s decision.”