Leeds United: Bridcutt defends himself over ‘horrible tackle’ claims

Liam Bridcutt.

Liam Bridcutt.

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Liam Bridcutt defended what he called a “normal Championship tackle” as Leeds United head coach Steve Evans hit out at a “fuss about nothing” over the midfielder’s foul in last night’s friendly between Scotland and Denmark.

Bridcutt, who was making his second international appearance for Scotland, came under fire from Denmark’s players and coaching staff after catching defender Erik Sviatchenko with a two-footed challenge towards the end of the game.

The 26-year-old was booked for the tackle 10 minutes from time and faced claims from Celtic’s Sviatchenko that the tackle could have broken his leg.

Denmark coach Age Hareide said Bridcutt’s lunge had risked ending Sviatchenko’s career, though the defender was not injured in the incident.

Bridcutt played down the controversy, saying: “I think that’s a normal Championship tackle. For everyone who knows me and knows the way I play, I’m that kind of player. I go in 100 per cent and I go in fair.”

Sviatchenko criticised Bridcutt at the end of yesterday’s friendly, saying: “I was very lucky. It was a horrible tackle.

“When you see the replay it is unbelievable I didn’t get a serious injury. I said to the referee he could have broken my leg.”

Hareide conceded that Bridcutt had not “meant to be nasty” but said the tackle could have “taken his (Sviatchenko’s) leg or his career.”

Evans, however, was present at Scotland’s 1-0 win at Hampden and spoke out in defence of Bridcutt, the midfielder who became his first signing at Leeds when he joined the club on loan from Sunderland in November.

Evans said: “When you watch it back he clearly wins the ball so to me it’s a fair challenge. It’s a fuss about nothing and I don’t know why so much has been made of it.

“As head coach of Leeds I want him putting those sort of challenges in every week and if you’ve watched Liam over any period of time you know full well that he never goes in with any intention of hurting anyone. That’s not his game or his character.

“I was at the game and Denmark were the better side. They had the better chances, they should have won and the goal they conceded was very poor. Rather than focus on all that, it’s a bit easier to focus on Liam’s challenge.”

Bridcutt’s appearance as a substitute at Hampden ended a three-year wait for his second cap, following on from his debut in a World Cup qualifier against Serbia in March 2013.

His international prospects faded in the interim due to injuries and a period of mixed fortunes at Sunderland but his form for Leeds earned him another opportunity under Scotland coach Gordon Strachan.

Bridcutt, who was born in Reading but qualifies for Scotland through his grandparents, appeared in the 69th minute yesterday and helped to see out a narrow win over a Denmark side which included former Leeds goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

United defender Liam Cooper was an unused substitute and is still waiting for his senior Scotland debut.

Bridcutt said: “It was a tough game against a very good side. It wasn’t the best performance by far, we know that, but it’s something to build on and the positive for me is that I got my second cap. I’m back in international football.

“After making my debut I had a bad run with injuries and personal things off the pitch but now I’m back fit, playing week in, week out and showing people that I’m back to winning ways.

“I would have liked to have played a lot more, every player does, but (Strachan) was pleased with how I’d been training and he gave me the nod. I was happy to get the nod. It’s good to be back.

“I would have loved to have played a lot longer but it wasn’t to be. If I keep putting a good run together hopefully I’ll get a start.”

Bridcutt admitted that his move to Leeds – initially on an emergency basis and latterly on loan to the end of this season – had been crucial in reviving a career which appeared to have hit a dead end at Sunderland.

“It was massive,” Bridcutt said. “I knew I had to get out on loan and to be back playing football if I wanted to progress.

“To get back to international football I needed to be playing regularly and Leeds gave me that opportunity. I’m grateful.”

Bridcutt is due to resume training with Leeds at Thorp Arch tomorrow morning ahead of Saturday’s visit to an in-form Rotherham United side.

United were beaten 4-1 by Huddersfield Town in a one-sided Yorkshire derby before the international break but Bridcutt said: “You’ve got to put that to one side.

“We know that we’ve got a big game coming up at the weekend. They (Rotherham) are beating some of the top boys at the moment.”