Modric: players must stop career-threatening tackles

Spurs midfielder says not punishing 'dangerous tacklers' such as Cattermole is putting players' careers at risk
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Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric yesterday claimed hard-tackling players need to show a greater responsibility towards their fellow professionals after he received a dangerous challenge from Sunderland's Lee Cattermole that he believes could have ended his career.

The Croatian playmaker felt the full force of Cattermole's boot during Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, for which the Sunderland midfielder, who has already been sent off twice this season, was only booked by the referee, Howard Webb.

Afterwards, Modric was angry at Webb's generosity towards Cattermole, but was more concerned about what he believes is some players' apparent disregard for others' safety.

Modric said: "They [other players] need to think before they make challenges like that because you are talking about your fellow professionals. They can ruin their careers. They just need to think about it before they make these tackles.

"He [Cattermole] should have had a red card but the referee decided differently and that's it. End of story. Always when you see tackles like that you are a bit upset – if they are not punished properly then even more so but what can you do.

"We need to get more protection from tackles and stuff like that. We need more protection. The referees are there on the pitch to try to make decisions and do the best job for everyone. There is a big swelling on my knee and he should have got a red card but the referee decided differently."

Cattermole was lucky on Tuesday night not to be given a straight red for the challenge on Modric. He had already been sent off twice this season – on the first day of the season against Birmingham City and then in September against Wigan Athletic, on both occasions for two yellow cards.

It may have helped Cattermole's cause that he knows Webb after the referee visited the Sunderland training ground earlier this season, following the player's dismissal against Birmingham City, to speak to him about his tackling. At the time, Cattermole said: "I didn't know Howard was coming in but he blasted my two fouls out on video in front of 50 of my team-mates."

The card at Tottenham takes Cattermole's record to 42 yellow cards and five red in 134 Premier League appearances. In September Cattermole, 22, was warned by the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, that his career could be "blighted by his disciplinary record" unless he cuts out the rash tackles. Bruce, however, did not accept that the latest challenge on Modric was dirty. "I thought the tackle was a fair one. For me, he plays the ball," the manager said.