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Hammers defend Ilunga over Bruce barb
Published : 03 Nov 2009 16:39:00
West Ham assistant boss Steve Clarke has slammed rival manager Steve Bruce for accusing Herita Ilunga of "play-acting" in the Hammers' draw with Sunderland at the weekend. The Congolese defender was pushed to the ground by Kenwyne Jones in the first half of Saturday's 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light, leading to the Sunderland striker being shown a red card. Sunderland boss Bruce criticised Ilunga's reaction to the shove, claiming it "left a lot to be desired", and also added it was a "ploy" by the Hammers medical staff to run onto the pitch and make the most of the incident by applying ice-packs to the player's face. Clarke spoke out in defence of Ilunga on Tuesday - and told Bruce he should keep his opinions of opposition players to himself. "I find it incredible that a player who was the victim is the person everyone is talking about," said Clarke, in reference to Ilunga, the former Toulouse left-back. "Tell me what Ilunga did wrong? Someone pushed him in the face. He'd just recently recovered from a triple fracture to the jaw - maybe he thought there was a punch coming. "It was wrong of Steve Bruce to comment on our players. I find it incredible we are here talking about our player, when he was the victim. This is wrong, it's completely wrong. There was no over-reaction; he has to protect himself. He's a big boy, Kenwyne Jones."