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Mark Hughes fumes over Wilkinson tackle on Dembele

Moussa Dembele is stretchered off
Dembele won a Dutch league title with AZ Alkmaar in 2008-09

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has heavily criticised Stoke's Andy Wilkinson for a reckless tackle on Moussa Dembele.

Wilkinson was booked for scything down the striker, who had to be carried off, during stoppage-time of Stoke's 2-0 Carling Cup win on Tuesday night.

Hughes said: "If he has avoided serious injury he has been a very lucky boy.

"The tackle that took him out was, from my point of view, an absolutely ridiculous challenge at that stage of the game."

Dembele, who has scored three times this season since arriving from AZ Alkmaar, left the stadium on crutches but the full extent of the injury is not yet known.

After the game, a fuming Hughes questioned the logic and timing of Wilkinson's challenge.

"When you are at that stage of the game and your team is leading 2-0, there is a certain code I would suggest that you look after your fellow professional, and the lad has ignored that," said Hughes.

"There was no need for the challenge at that late stage in the game and he has put a fellow professional's career at risk by the nature of it. I don't know what the hell he was thinking about to be perfectly honest.

"We are hopeful that he [Dembele] is fortunate and there has been no break, and if that is the case, it's a blessing because at the time of the challenge I thought he had done a real serious injury."

A lengthy lay-off for the Belgian striker would be a severe blow for Hughes, who has already seen Bobby Zamora suffer a broken leg which will keep him out until February.

"We have already lost Bobby Zamora to a serious injury and will be five months at least with him out of the side, so we can ill-afford to lose another quality striker," added Hughes.

606: DEBATE

"We have been really pleased with what Moussa has produced in the short time he has been with us and if we have to be without him for any length of time then that is going to compromise our attacking threat."

Stoke assistant manager Dave Kemp agreed that Wilkinson was guilty of a misjudgement but insisted the defender had not set out to hurt Dembele.

"It was an unnecessary, rash challenge - we know that, we are football people as well," stated Kemp.

"We have spoken to Andy about it. He didn't need to make the challenge, I agree. All I can say is that I hope the player is not too badly hurt. There is no malice in his challenge - it is just over-enthusiasm."



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see also
Stoke 2-0 Fulham
21 Sep 10 |  League Cup
Carling Cup as it happened
21 Sep 10 |  Football
Zamora sidelined until February
16 Sep 10 |  Fulham
Fulham complete deal for Dembele
18 Aug 10 |  Fulham


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