Melbourne City's Tim Cahill issues apology for swearing at referee

Tim Cahill has apologised for swearing at A-League referee Chris Beath during last weekend's fiery Melbourne derby, acknowledging his behaviour hurt the game.

In his first public words since copping a straight red card and one-match suspension on Saturday night, Cahill accepted he must be held accountable for his sideline reaction to Melbourne Victory's controversial 2-1 winner over Melbourne City.

According to Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich, the Socceroos veteran and City marquee admitted to calling Beath an "effing disgrace" after referees awarded a controversial 86th-minute own goal to City's Manny Muscat.

Cahill was a substitute and had not even entered the field of play, believed to be the first time that has happened in Australian domestic football history.

However, a Fairfax Media report citing club sources said Beath had given the red card in error and should have issued him with a caution instead.

Cahill explained himself on Instagram late on Monday night.

"I sincerely apologise to Chris Beath for my reaction," the 37-year-old wrote.

"My behaviour also hurt the game so I also apologise to my team, to Melbourne Victory and to all the fans at the game and watching at home.

"Regardless of whatever happens on the pitch, I have to respect the game and the officials.

"I want the game to grow in Australia and I want to do all I can to help that happen.

"No matter the situation, I have to set an example and be accountable for my words and actions.

"My job now is to focus totally on football and winning as many games as possible."

Winning will be tough this week for a massively depleted City, who host Brisbane at AAMI Park on Saturday without up to eight key players.

Goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines for his racial slur against Victory striker Besart Berisha.

Bouzanis will be the mercy of Football Federation Australia's disciplinary and ethics committee on Wednesday night for calling Berisha a "f**king gypsy" after the Muscat own goal, and could be suspended for five matches.

On top of his absence, City will be missing captain Bruno Fornaroli, Muscat, Osama Malik, Luke Brattan and Fernando Brandan, who will all serve one-week bans due to an accumulation of yellow cards, while defender Michael Jakobsen is injured.

City, described by former Socceroo and A-League coach John Kosmina as being "all over the shop," can leapfrog Brisbane back into third with a win.

But a loss would see the preseason title favourites slip out of the top four for the first time this season.