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Mancini hits back at De Jong critics

Nigel 23.09.10

Nigel 23.09.10

Roberto Mancini has admitted he is "disappointed" at the reaction that has followed the Nigel de Jong tackle that resulted in a broken leg for Newcastle loan player Hatem Ben Arfa.

Several high-profile pundits and former players have criticised the challenge, which was not penalised by referee Martin Atkinson, and Holland left their key midfielder out of the squad for their Euro2010 qualifiers.

Mancini, who expressed his full support for De Jong earlier this week, said: "First of all, I am very sorry for Ben Arfa. He's a good player and I hope that he can be back playing very quickly. But I am very disappointed about the people who have talked about the situation.

"I never saw the tackle at the time. I watched it two days ago. It was very, very unlucky. But it was a normal tackle, not all the things that the people talking about it have said.

"The referee was one metre away. All the players were there, but none of the players said or did anything when it happened. It was very unlucky, this injury." 

De Jong has been at Carrington this week while many team-mates were away on international duty, and Mancini added: "I think that he is disappointed, because he is a Holland player who always works 100 per cent for the team.

"He's an honest player and a good player. He is a hard player but in the Premier League there are a lot of players like Nigel who play 100 per cent for the team who can sometimes do one or two fouls.

"He's very sorry for Ben Arfa but that is football. It is important that he continues to play calmly. He is an important player for Holland, but it depends on the Holland manager."

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