Pearce calls for change to rules on injury delays

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The Independent Football

The Manchester City manager, Stuart Pearce, has called for a change in the law regarding treatment of injured players.

Pearce saw his side concede a crucial second goal to West Ham United in their FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Eastlands on Monday night while officials from both clubs were shouting for the ball to be kicked out of play so the injured Christian Dailly could receive some attention.

Although his own side had played on, apparently oblivious to Dailly's situation, West Ham did so too, with Yossi Benayoun running past his prone team-mate as he delivered the cross that provided Dean Ashton with a tap-in goal that gave the visitors a two-goal lead. But Pearce does feel it is time physiotherapists were allowed on to the pitch to treat players without waiting for the referee to wave them on at a break in play.

Instant treatment is allowed in both rugby codes and Pearce believes it would provide the added benefit of getting rid of 80 per cent of the instances when players go down when they are not really hurt.

"There is always a grey area in situations like these and I have been saying for months now there is a simple solution," the City manager said yesterday. "All you have to do is give the fourth official the power to let the physio on to treat a player while the game still continues. It will immediately eradicate 80 per cent of the times when players go down because they will automatically know the game is not going to stop.

"For the other, genuine 20 per cent of cases, it would mean they get treatment for their injuries as quickly as possible. It is quite simple as far as I can see and I do not know why it has not been addressed."

As a former team-mate of Dailly at Upton Park, Pearce knew that the Scotland international was not faking the injury and he was subsequently carried off on a stretcher with an ankle problem. Pearce felt the way the game switched from one side of the pitch to the other meant that players from both teams were unaware of Dailly's problem, and he did feel the uncertainty was a contributory factor behind the Hammers' goal.

"I thought the game should have been stopped but the ball has gone from their right-hand side to ours and I don't think many players from either side actually knew Christian was down," Pearce said.

"By the time Kiki Musampa got the ball in the middle of the park, he was aware of the crowd buzzing and he didn't quite know what to do. West Ham took it off him and once they had a sniff of a goal, getting the ball out for Christian was not their priority."

After suffering two dispiriting defeats in three days, which have virtually wrecked any hope City had of qualifying for Europe next season, Pearce must somehow raise his team for Saturday's arduous visit to champions-elect Chelsea.

It promises to be no easy task, particularly as City are facing an acute manpower shortage. Sun Jihai will definitely miss out after his harsh sending-off on Monday, while Pearce has major injury doubts over half a dozen players, including striker Georgios Samaras and Stephen Jordan, who could both miss the remainder of the campaign if scans on respective ankle injuries are as bad as the Blues manager fears.

With Andy Cole also missing and Darius Vassell playing through the pain of a hernia problem, Bradley Wright-Phillips may be needed again, even though the youngster looked out of his depth in the tie against West Ham.