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Chelsea's Eva Carniero did nothing wrong, says Linfield's female physio who dashed onto pitch to save player

Exclusive by Claire McNeilly

A female physiotherapist with Linfield Football Club has sided with Eva Carniero, the Chelsea medic who incurred the wrath of manager Jose Mourinho by rushing onto the pitch to treat an injured player.

Ashley McCoubrey added that Ms Carniero - who has now been banned from the Chelsea touchline after being labelled "impulsive and naive" by the hot-headed Blues boss - only had the player's interests at heart when the referee signalled her to attend to Belgian star Eden Hazard.

Her actions temporarily reduced Chelsea, who'd already had a player sent off, to only nine active men when they were pushing for a winner towards the end of Saturday's Premier League match with Swansea, which finished 2-2.

Mourinho has since been castigated by leading medical professionals for publicly humiliating a key member of his staff and Ms McCoubrey - who was one of the Linfield team who rushed to the aid of concussion victim Amber Dempster during a ladies match last week - said she had no issues with the course of action the 41-year-old Chelsea woman took.

"Eva was only looking after the player's best interests," said 22-year-old Ms McCoubrey, a former pupil of the same Carrickfergus school as Ben Robinson, who died after suffering repeated bouts of concussion during a rugby match in 2011.

"When I started, I was taught that if I'm summoned onto the pitch, then I go on," she added.

"That's what I would have done in Eva's position."

Ms McCoubrey tended to Blues forward Amber following a hefty challenge from a rival player during a match against Cliftonville at Solitude.

The 22-year-old Bangor woman was rushed to hospital after losing consciousness and underwent a brain scan but was ultimately given the all-clear.

"Amber was hit on the head and I was called on to the pitch," the physio said.

"She was taken off immediately, assessed by myself and other Linfield staff and we decided that she would need urgent hospital treatment. She was with us no more than 15 minutes before we called an ambulance so it was just a case of following their instructions and trying to keep her as comfortable as possible until they came."

Following Amber's scare, Ben Robinson's father Peter told this newspaper that the incident had chilling echoes of the tragedy that befell his 14-year-old son.

The Carrickfergus Grammar schoolboy died as a result of 'second impact syndrome' following several heavy tackles received during a schools' game.

Ms McCoubrey, a Carrickfergus native, said that,although Ben wasn't a personal friend, his tragic death was never far from her mind.

"Ben was younger than me but we were at the same school," she said. "It was a very hard time for everybody - even the pupils who didn't know Ben personally. It affected us all.

"What happened to him has always been in the back of my mind ever since, especially with my line of work and with sports.

"It's great that his parents have done a lot of campaigning to increase awareness about the dangers of concussion so I definitely think that has been a positive from it."

She said her first-hand experince with sports-related head injury was minimal.

"Amber's head injury was the most serious incident that I've had in my year working with Linfield and I'm just glad that everything was ok for her.

"It's important that people have an awareness of concussion and can recognise the signs and symptoms of it".

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