Tough-tackling Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph today claimed he is not a hatchet man but is worried that he will be singled out referees in the future.
Delph will miss Villa’s relegation six pointers against Reading and Queens Park Rangers after he picked up his 10th booking of the season in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City – albeit for handball in this instance.
And while the former Leeds United man disputed the majority of the cards received this season, he accepted he may have to curb his aggressive approach a little.
“I have never once injured a player or tried to injure a player. I always try to play the ball. 10 yellow cards looks bad but I’m not malicious,” said Delph.
“Honestly, I don’t think I deserve a lot of the yellow cards I’ve picked up this season. I think I deserve three. The game has changed and obviously I’ve got to change.
“Tackling is a dying breed now. Football is a lot more technical and a bit more sensible. Refs have got a bit soft and it’s something I’ll look to curb.
“I think I make fair challenges. I can miss-time some of them. I am only human. It’s something I’ll look at, and something I have looked at before.
“Will it make me a marked man with referees? Possibly. It’s something I have thought about. It’s not something I am going to write in capital letters and focus on because if I do that then other areas of my game will suffer.
“There are other areas I am more concerned about. I will always compete and just try to minimise the yellow cards a bit.”
Delph admitted he was devastated to miss two games which could be crucial in the context of Villa’s battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League, but backed whoever replaced him in midfield to step up to the plate.
“It’s a huge blow to miss them. I am disappointed. I have got to look at myself and obviously I have let myself down,” added Delph.
“On another level there are midfielders in the team who can step in and do a job. If not do a better job. The next two games now are massive, and I don’t see why we can’t go out and get six points.
“I think we have done well over the past few games and that will hopefully stand us in good stead.”