Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists Ross Barkley is no diver and claims the incident where the midfielder went to ground in Saturday's game against West Ham "has been blown out of proportion".
Barkley has faced accusations of throwing himself down on purpose after he hit the deck in the first half of the 2-1 Premier League home victory over the Hammers, winning his side a free-kick even though replays showed there had been no contact on him from his nearest opponent, Kevin Nolan.
Martinez is adamant Barkley is not the sort of player to try to "buy a decision" and says it is understandable the 20-year-old might end up on the turf while attempting to avoid some of the "rough treatment" he has to endure in matches.
Asked ahead of tonight's Europa League Group H match at Wolfsburg whether he had spoken to Barkley about diving, Martinez said: "Not at all - I don't think it (Saturday's incident) was a dive as such. When you are a player like Ross Barkley and you are getting so many knocks and kicks during the game, the only thing he did was anticipate a tackle that didn't arrive - he tried to get out of the way. I don't think he looks for those sort of decisions. He wasn't trying to buy a decision.
"It is an incident from the game that you can understand - when you see his legs after the game, you understand the rough treatment he gets. It was just a reaction. The whole situation has been blown out of proportion."
Barkley is part of a Toffees squad missing a considerable number of players, including forward Steven Naismith due to the hamstring issue sustained against West Ham.
Among those who sat out that contest were defender Leighton Baines (hamstring) and midfielders Gareth Barry (ankle) and Steven Pienaar (knee), each of whom are also absent from the trip to Germany, but Martinez says that trio and Naismith have a chance of featuring in Sunday's league game at Tottenham.
Forward Arouna Kone is a notable inclusion in the squad as his rehabilitation from a long-term knee problem nears completion.
Everton go into the match, their penultimate fixture in Group H, unbeaten in the pool so far and in a very strong position in terms of their prospects of making the knockout rounds. They are top and need only a point from the clash with second-placed Wolfsburg to guarantee progress to the next stage, while a victory will confirm them as having advanced as group-winners.
They will also qualify even if they lose should the evening's other Group H fixture, between Krasnodar and Lille, end in a draw.
VfL Wolfsburg v Everton, live, 3e, 6.00pm