MANCHESTER, February 10 – Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, hit out Tuesday at the lack of "leeway" shown to Shaun Wright-Phillips after the England winger was banned for three matches.
Wright-Phillips was suspended Monday by the Football Association, after officials reviewed television footage of an incident involving the forward and Stoke’s Rory Delap.
Referee Martin Atkinson sent-off Delap for kicking the ball from point-blank range at Wright-Phillips, who was laying on the ground, but missed the retaliatory kick from the City man at the Britannia Stadium on Janaury 31.
Now Hughes will be without the talented 27-year-old for the matches against Portsmouth, Liverpool and West Ham.
"We admitted at the time that there was a reaction, but there were reasons why Shaun reacted like he did," Hughes told City’s official website.
"We hoped that there would have been a little bit of leeway where the decision makers were concerned, but unfortunately I think the FA have to go by the letter of the law."
"They will support the referee’s report, so unfortunately we will miss Shaun for the same length of time that Stoke will be without Rory Delap," the former Blackburn and Wales boss added.
"That does not seem correct in my view, but that’s where we are."
"There will always be grey areas open to debate, but I just think Shaun’s case should have been judged on its own merits," said Hughes, who made his name in English football as an uncompromising centre forward with Manchester United.
"Shaun has been really hard done by because of the severity of the punishment. It’s a blow because he has been playing really well. But there is nothing we can do now – we just have to get on with it."