Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce is concerned that Joey Barton is becoming embroiled in a witch hunt by the media.
The City midfielder's tackle on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes forced the Portuguese star to be stretchered off the pitch in Saturday's game between the two teams.
Barton has been vilified in the wake of the tackle, but Pearce thinks the incident has been blown up out of all proportion.
He told City's official website: "I've seen it, and for me the ball's gone past him, he's gone to chase it and trodden on the back of the kid's heel.
"At the moment, for whatever reason, probably because Joey's made his debut for England last week, there's a bit of a witch hunt and people are telling me there's a big crime involved.
"Yes, he's caught him, he's trodden on the back of his heel. I don't think he purposely meant to do it, the only person who will know that is Joey. If you ask him, I'm sure he'll say, 'no I didn't mean do to it on purpose.'
"He's watching the ball, and it's very harsh to turn around and suggest he's gone and intentionally done Pedro Mendes. I'd be very disappointed if that's the case and surprised."
Meanwhile, the FA has confirmed that it is liaising with Hampshire Police after Barton was alleged to have made gestures towards Pompey fans after the match.