Barnsley manager Keith Hill accused Leeds United midfielder Michael Brown of “doing a job” on Jacob Butterfield after Brown injured the 21-year-old prospect with a first-half tackle at Oakwell.
Hill aimed guarded criticism at Brown over the challenge which forced Butterfield to limp from the field with damaged knee ligaments in the early stages of Saturday’s Yorkshire derby.
Butterfield was hurt by Brown’s sliding tackle on four minutes and made way for substitute Ricardo Vaz Te, whose three goals inspired Barnsley to a 4-1 win. Brown conceded a foul but avoided a yellow card from referee Neil Swarbrick.
Butterfield – a target for several Premier League clubs, many of whom sent scouts to Saturday’s game – faces three weeks on the sidelines, and Hill said: “It was an old pro’s challenge.
“I’m not condoning it and he’s done a job on Jacob Butterfield. It’s something I would probably have done in the past but it belongs in the past and we’ve fallen foul of it. Referee’s don’t understand that type of challenge.
“Brown’s an excellent player and a clever player but he’s done a job on Jacob and we can’t get away from that. He’ll probably be out for three weeks.”
Butterfield’s substitution appeared to be a major blow to Barnsley but his replacement, Vaz Te, scored with his first touch on 16 minutes and went on to claim the headlines with two further goals.
“For everything a reason,” Hill said. “These things happen and it presented an opportunity for Ricardo. “He was disappointed about not starting but I’m glad he responded because I thought he was getting a bit lazy. He’s been scoring goals but his function in the team isn’t just to score goals.
“I know what a player he can be but unless he educates himself and reminds himself of his function then he’ll end up being a substitute no matter whether he’s playing here or anywhere else in the world.”
Saturday’s victory gave Barnsley the satisfaction of a home-and-away double over Leeds, who lost 2-1 to Hill’s side at Elland Road on November 26.
Hill said: “They’re a good side and we nullified their threats. When we’re on song, it can make them look a bit average – no disrespect to Leeds.
“Does it mean something special to do the double? Yes, it certainly does because of the manner in which we’ve played.
“We’re so close yet so far away. When we’re at our best, we’re as good as a lot of teams. But when we’re slightly off, we can’t get away with that. Our first priority is definitely 50 points.”