Everton boss David Moyes has advised Marouane Fellaini to take a leaf out of Lionel Messi's book when it comes to being on the receiving end of rough-house tactics from opponents.
Toffees midfielder Fellaini was left with a bleeding knee on Saturday by a tackle from Norwich's Bradley Johnson, with no action being taken by referee Lee Mason. The Belgium international subsequently took retribution by barging Johnson over, which resulted in a free-kick and a stern talking-to.
Moyes has no doubt referees could do more to protect Fellaini, but has told the 25-year-old to follow the lead of Barcelona's superstar Messi. Moyes said: "I keep saying to him 'look at Lionel Messi' - he gets kicked every week."
The Toffees manager added: "Everybody wants to kick him (Messi) because it is the only way to stop him, but all he ever does is sort of smile, get up and get on with it, and then does it again. So I have told him (Fellaini) he has to copy that.
"I don't think he'll ever be as good as that, but certainly in his temperament, he should try to be similar to Lionel Messi, who looks as if he just gets on and accepts that people have to try to stop him some way."
Earlier this season, Fellaini was handed a three-game ban by the Football Association after headbutting Stoke's Ryan Shawcross as the pair jostled for position - something he issued an apology for but also said he felt he had not been given any protection from the match officials.
Moyes said: "You trust them (officials) and expect them to go about their job the same for everybody. But if you look at him (Fellaini), you know he has to take as many challenges as anybody. He will give as many out, but I don't think he gets protected as well as what there is when he is challenging somebody."
Moyes was speaking ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup fifth-round replay against npower League One Oldham at Goodison Park, in which his team will be looking to contain the threat of 6ft 6in striker Matt Smith, who netted a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser for the Latics to ensure the original tie finished 2-2 on February 16.
"That type of centre-forward was probably more prevalent in my day - we had one of them every week," Moyes, a former centre-back, said. "I think it is less and less so the case now in the Premier League, so that is what makes it a little bit more unusual.
"I don't think there are quite as many teams using a big man the way Oldham do. But it is part of football and there is no right or wrong way to play. The job is to win, and whatever way you choose to do it, as long as it is within the rules, that is okay."