Belfast Telegraph

McLeish: Hutton was conned

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish thinks defender Alan Hutton was "conned" into being sent off during the latter stages of Wednesday night's home clash with Arsenal.

Hutton lost his discipline in being yellow carded twice in the space of two minutes after a flare-up with Robin van Persie and then for bringing down Thomas Vermaelen.

Van Persie was then spotted waving at Hutton after he had been given his marching orders by referee Jonathan May, and the full-back will now miss Villa's Boxing Day clash at Stoke through suspension. McLeish said: "I thought Alan was great, really terrific. Although it didn't cost us the game, it was a shame to see him getting sent off after such a good performance."

He added: "Van Persie was waving to him as he went down the tunnel. They conned him. Alan was conned and he should be experienced enough to just laugh in his face and walk away.

"He was disappointed in himself. He texted me and he was apologetic. He was probably trying to get out of the fine. Maybe the Arsenal player lured him into it but I didn't think he'd get conned like that, but there you go."

But McLeish insists he has no issue with Van Persie over Hutton's red card.

When asked if that side of Van Persie's game disappointed him, the Villa boss said: "No, you've got to do what you can for your team. What it is, is being streetwise. If you're winding someone up and they get sent off - and you've reduced the opposition's resources and your team wins - you've done a good job."

McLeish believes there is still more to come from Hutton, who played for him with Rangers and Scotland, after his summer move from Tottenham.

He said: "I think there is more to see from him. He strides forward. He had some phenomenal performances for Scotland during the World Cup and European Championship runs. He was oustanding against the Italians and French. We saw some of those runs forward on Wednesday night.

"He is in really good form and he even matched Craig Bellamy (of Liverpool) the other night. He got on the wrong side of Bellamy a couple of times but he got back to him. He has great recovery pace and he's a big presence."

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