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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 07:31 GMT
Wenger retracts Taylor criticism
Referee Mike Dean shows a red card to Martin Taylor (out of shot) as Eduardo receives treatment
Martin Taylor (out of shot) is sent off as Eduardo receives treatment
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his initial comments that Birmingham's Martin Taylor "should never play football again" were "excessive".

Wenger claimed the third-minute tackle which broke Eduardo's leg and earned Taylor a red card was "horrendous".

But later on Saturday Wenger said: "I feel that my comments about Martin Taylor were excessive. I said what I did in the heat of the moment.

"It was a highly emotional afternoon and we were all shocked by the injury."

Eduardo, 24, remained lying on the pitch for seven minutes as medical staff attended to him before he was stretchered off and taken to hospital.

He underwent surgery for a double compound fracture later on Saturday and will miss the rest of the season, with Wenger fearing a "much longer" absence.

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish sprang to the defence of Taylor.

"Martin's not a dirty player. He's distraught over Eduardo's injury," he said.

Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent in the tackle and he is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo's injury

Birmingham statement

"I've seen the challenge and, yes, the studs land on Eduardo's ankle. In slow motion these tackles always look bad but he's not a malicious player - Eduardo was just too quick for him," he explained.

"The referee's done his job, it's a sending off, but Taylor's not a malicious player."

Birmingham released a statement later on Saturday saying the club were "saddened that such a fantastic game of football has been marred by a serious injury".

It added: "Martin Taylor is adamant there was no malicious intent in the tackle and he is deeply upset by the extent of Eduardo's injury.

"Having reviewed the incident, this (no malicious intent) is clearly the case. The club and Martin Taylor would like to send their very best wishes to the player for a speedy recovery."

606: DEBATE
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The seriousness of the injury was apparent as both sets of players and medical staff looked shocked while Eduardo was treated on the pitch.

The Brazilian-born striker now looks certain to miss out on Croatia's participation at Euro 2008 in June.

"It was a massive shock for the team. They've seen what kind of state he was in," Wenger added.

"He's a fantastic guy and to see him in such pain and the shape of his leg was very difficult for the players.

"We hope he comes back quickly but the minimum is his season is over and we are scared that it is much longer."

Earlier, an angry Wenger had claimed his team were targeted by opponents.

Martin Taylor is the biggest, gentlest man

Wigan and former Birmingham boss Steve Bruce

"It goes with the idea that to stop Arsenal you have to kick Arsenal and that kind of thing was waiting to happen," he said.

But Wigan boss Steve Bruce, who signed Taylor from Blackburn when he was Blues boss in February 2004, said his former player would never intentionally hurt anyone.

"Martin Taylor is the biggest, gentlest man," said Bruce. "There will be nobody more upset and sickened than him, there is not a bad bone in his body.

"He would never, ever do anything malicious. He has mis-timed the tackle, and I've seen it. Some would say it is not even a yellow card."

SEE ALSO
Hansen on Eduardo's injury
24 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Eduardo has surgery on broken leg
24 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Birmingham 2-2 Arsenal
23 Feb 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day


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