MANAGER Paul Lambert insists that his Aston Villa side is not a dirty team - despite their third red card in four games.
Midfielder Fabian Delph was sent off in the second half for a rash tackle on Jordi Gomez as Villa held on for a 0-0 draw against Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League.
Former Sunderland man Kieran Richardson and Gabriel Agbonlahor have been dismissed this month, although Agbonlahor’s red against Manchester United was rescinded.
Christian Benteke was also sent off in November after clashing with Ryan Mason against Tottenham - but Lambert has defended his side.
“We’re not a dirty team, we don’t have anyone really who is a dirty player,” he said. “Look at the lads who have been sent off - they are not malicious at all.
“It doesn’t look great but the lads are committed to the challenge. Gabby’s one wasn’t that but Kieran’s I understand because his studs were showing. Benteke was provoked as I said at the time.”
And Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, who worked with Delph when he was assistant manager at Leeds, sympathised with the England international.
“It’s Fabian Delph, it’s the way he plays football and maybe his reputation,” he said. “Sometimes players can make three or four fouls and get a yellow and Fabian makes one tackle and if it looks a little dangerous he gets a red.
“It’s unlucky but saying that if you see it and stop the video and see the studs in his ankle, if it’s another three inches up it could be a broken leg.
“It’s dangerous. Sometimes you get away with those tackles. He brings something extra to the pitch and sometimes that could get a red card.
“At Leeds I can tell you Dennis Wise received a few from Fab in training. I really like him and I feel sad for him but it was a little bit dangerous and we need to be fair to the referee.”