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 By Mike Whalley

Martinez defends Lukaku challenge

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has responded to Andre Villas-Boas' criticism of Romelu Lukaku.

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Striker Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, came under fire from Tottenham boss Villas-Boas over the incident that briefly left goalkeeper Hugo Lloris unconscious.

Spurs keeper Lloris was knocked out in a collision with Lukaku during last Sunday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Goodison Park, although he played on after treatment.

Villas-Boas said on Wednesday that the Belgian forward could have avoided the collision -- and that he should have contacted Lloris afterwards to apologise.

Martinez, though, has claimed that Tottenham owed him an apology over an alleged elbow by striker Roberto Soldado on Everton captain Phil Jagielka, which went unpunished.

Asked about Lukaku’s collision with Lloris, the Everton manager said: “The good thing is that you can watch the replay and see the video evidence. All Romelu is doing is carrying on his run. He cannot disappear. It’s unfortunate.

“I don’t think Andre Villas-Boas mentioned that there was any intent or wrongdoing from Romelu. I think he only mentioned that maybe he expected an apology.

“Obviously, we’re waiting for Roberto Soldado to apologise to Phil Jagielka, and do so in the same phone call, so that we don’t have to spend on two phone calls.”

Martinez, though, is not calling for retrospective action to be taken against Soldado.

He said: “That’s not for me to comment on. I don’t think that would be of any benefit to Everton. If it took the point away, then that’s something you can comment on.

“I heard it’s something that could come into the game, and that’s down to the authorities to decide if that’s something they want to bring into the Premier League.”

Lukaku suffered a knee injury in the collision, but is set to play when Everton travel to bottom club Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 20-year-old himself suffered a blow to the head in scoring the winner in a 3-2 Premier League victory at West Ham in September and -- like Lloris -- played on after treatment.

Tottenham were heavily criticised for allowing Lloris to continue, but Martinez suggested there was no comparison to be made with the head injury his striker suffered at Upton Park.

He said: “At the time, Romelu was fine. He got a knock, but it didn’t go any further. He did not lose consciousness. It was a very strong knock, but he was fine to carry on.”

Martinez, though, believes the rules should be changed so that managers do not have to make the final decision on whether to replace a player who suffers concussion during a game.

He said: “I don’t think it should be a manager’s decision whether you take a player off or not.

“If there is a strong view from the medical side that a concussed player should come off we should look into it and make a rule.

“It should be part of the game and a law. It would be very unfair to be a manager in a position where you have to take a player off just to avoid any sort of risk without having that medical knowledge.”


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