Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope has been defended after a nasty collision with Moussa Djenepo forced the Southampton star off with suspected concussion.
There were big calls from the St. Mary’s crowd to send Pope off after he rushed out of the box to clear the ball with his head and ran through Djenepo in the process.
The 24-year-old was left floored by the collision and had to come off for ex-Newcastle ace Adam Armstrong in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
But speaking on talkSPORT, former Premier League striker Dean Ashton has rushed to Pope’s defence and insisted the England international could do nothing else and that Djenepo had to be the one to get out the way.
The former West Ham and Norwich striker said: “He’s come rushing out, he’s given a big call – I can hear it from here – he has gone absolutely all the way through Djenepo.
“Knees in the chest but Pope is going to, he knows he is going to take him out.
“He has got to win the header, there is nothing he can do other than to barrel into Djenepo. Djenepo has just got to get out the way.
“It’s difficult because it looks really nasty and obviously Pope has completely wiped him out but he can’t do a lot.
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“He is coming out to head the ball and Djenepo is there. I am afraid Djenepo has to realise the situation and think this is really not worth it.
“What else is Pope meant to do? He has gone to win the header, Djenepo is there. Does he head it and jump around Djenepo?
“I think it is obvious that he is the one to win it. I just think it is very unfortunate. It is not nice to see but I don’t see what else Pope is meant to do.”
Newcastle fielded a strong side with Eddie Howe believing that there is a strong chance they can win the Carabao Cup as one of the final four teams.
And they had the best chances in the first-half with Joelinton having a goal controversially ruled out.
Referee Stuart Attwell chalked off the effort because of handball after the ball rolled down his arm while the Brazilian had an easier chance blazed over after the break.