Saturday 25 March 2017

Hutton still unrepentant

ALAN Hutton has once again defended his horror tackle on Shane Long that ruled the Irish striker out of the Euro 2012 play-off games with Estonia.

The Aston Villa defender was widely condemned for his late tackle that chipped a bone in one of Long's knees and also caused severe bruising.

The Tipperary native returned to action last Saturday after a month on the sidelines and duly scored the winner against Bolton.

However, manager Roy Hodgson is still fuming over the tackle and reckons that Long was lucky not to have broken both legs.

The player is also bemused that the Scot escaped punishment, but Hutton continues to plead his innocence.

"I went to win the ball," he said. "The follow through wasn't great, but I would never go onto a pitch to hurt someone.

"It has happened to me before and I have just got on with it. Nobody means to go out and hurt anyone.

"Injuries happen every week. In football, decisions are made in split seconds. I broke my leg in a tackle. I'm sorry that Long was hurt and he was out for the length of time he was."

The former Rangers and Spurs full-back said that he understood Hodgson's anger.

"Shane chose to say what he said and that's fine," said the Scot. "He's a great player and I understand why his manager was angry, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. "

Meanwhile, Hodgson has warned Long that he will have to cope with the pressure arising from the high standard of his performances for West Brom this term.

Their summer acquisition has proved a massive hit with the Baggies faithful, and his winning goal against Bolton further enhanced his reputation.

"It's good that Shane has settled in so quickly but now people will expect more of him, so there will be an expectation, which can be problematic for players," said Hodgson.

"It's much easier for players while they are making that journey up. But when people say, 'he's good', it's a lot harder to do it time and again.

"Shane started like a house on fire but then had to come to terms with this level. Luckily, it's generally been a very quick adjustment after only four months of Premier League football for us."

Irish Independent

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