Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has told fans to blame him, not manager Alan Pardew, for his second-half substitution during the Magpies' 2-1 defeat at home to Reading.
Cabaye, 26, started his first game since November 4 against the Royals, opening the scoring, but was substituted for Gael Bigirimana in the 75th minute with the score at 1-1 amid boos from the home support.
Speaking after the game, Cabaye revealed he had asked to be substituted, telling the Journal: "I asked to come off because my groin became tight.
"I didn't want to take any risks on my first start for so long - I have come back much earlier than was planned. The pitch was very heavy. I think it was the right decision for me.
"The fans were very angry, but they did not realise I needed to come off. They should not blame the manager for that. It was my decision. I was not fit enough to finish the game. That was why I came off.
"It is unfair to blame the manager when it was me who made the decision. I am not worried now because I came off. I think I will be all right."
He said it "did not foresee" to him that Newcastle would lose the game - a result that leaves them only two points ahead of Reading - adding: "In this league, you can't afford to relax for one moment. It only takes a few seconds to win a game. Reading turned it around. What happened, we couldn't foresee, and we are all bitterly disappointed."
Meanwhile, manager Pardew said that while Cabaye's removal had been a necessity, his decision to substitute Sylvain Marveaux five minutes earlier had been a mistake.
"I made a decision to try and get a tackler on there and get us possession of the ball," he told the Shields Gazette. "More or less straight away, they scored - it was sloppy defensively. Then the mood in the stadium changed.
" The Yohan substitution was because an injury. About five minutes before he came off, he said he was struggling. That was a difficult one. I'd have kept Sylvain on.
"I thought Yohan was going to get through the game, if I'm honest. The fact he didn't get through the game meant we lost two flair players. That's the sort of season we're having."