Todd charged with violent conduct over elbow incident

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The Independent Online

Andy Todd, the Blackburn Rovers captain, was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after elbowing Robin van Persie during his side's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal in Cardiff on Saturday.

Andy Todd, the Blackburn Rovers captain, was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after elbowing Robin van Persie during his side's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal in Cardiff on Saturday.

Under the fast-track system, Todd has until 6pm today to respond to the charge after the FA's compliance unit reviewed video footage of the incident at the Millennium Stadium.

Todd was seen in television replays apparently catching Van Persie in the face with his elbow after the Dutchman, who finished the game with a bloodied lip, was turning away to celebrate the second of his two late goals in the 3-0 victory.

The Bristol referee in charge in Cardiff, Steve Dunn, is understood not to have witnessed the incident, and so failed to mention it in his report but the Rovers manager Mark Hughes was quick to defend his captain.

"I spoke to Andy immediately after the game and he assured me it was a complete accident," Hughes said. "If you look at the video, Andy's focus is on the ball, with Van Persie just colliding into him."

The FA's decision will come as a surprise and disappointment to both Hughes and the player himself, who faces at least a three-match suspension if found guilty.

Hughes was also angered by media criticism of his team's robust approach to the match. He said: "It's been difficult to take and understand because in no way did I feel we overstepped the mark. I just felt we were competitive.

"We weren't going to go into a game as important as that and not try to make an impact. We tried to do that, but we came up against a good side and we weren't good enough on the day.

"Since then it's been a case of putting some perspective on it, so I had a meeting with all the players and staff first thing [on Monday], and it was important we did that because of the criticism from all angles."

Hughes described the siege mentality which is now developing at Ewood Park. He said: "At times like this you become stronger as a group."

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