Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce believes England Under-21 international Jack Grealish’s three-match ban for violent conduct was on the harsh side.
Grealish was punished by the Football Association after video evidence showed that his boot made contact with Conor Coady while in a prone position in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.
Bruce told BBC WM: “It’s something we’ll have a conversation about.
“But I feel he’s been a bit hard done by. It’s because it’s Jack Grealish.”
The incident spilled over into an ugly flare-up between players from both teams, which led to Coady and Villa striker Ross McCormack, who ran several yards to get involved, both being booked for retaliation.
Grealish apologised with a handshake as the players left the pitch at half-time, which was accepted by Coady, while Bruce dismissed it as “handbags” in his post-match press conference, suggesting that Saturday’s match referee David Coote had “got it spot on and handled it well.”
It immediately ruled him out of that game, Villa’s first away win in 14 months, as well as Saturday’s home match against Fulham and the local derby at Birmingham City on 30 October.
Grealish is no Cantona – Bruce
When Bruce was appointed, he made it clear that “the slate was been wiped clean” as far as the future prospects of any player at the club was concerned.
But Grealish’s punishment is simply the latest episode for a talented player who has already attracted more than his fair share of unwanted headlines, largely for his off-field behaviour, and a comparison was made with Bruce’s former Manchester United team-mate Eric Cantona.
“The big difference is that Cantona has been there, done it and got the t-shirt. Jack hasn’t quite yet,” said Bruce.
“In that respect, we have to protect him and nurture him along. We have to help him, make sure he sees it was silly what he did, and that he has to cut it out.
“Unfortunately, we’re talking about him in the wrong situation again, when we should be talking about his football. He was our best player on Saturday.
“But he has to realise he has the world watching him as he’s got such good talent.”