Everton's Roberto Martinez defends Ross Barkley in dive debate

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has sought to defend Ross Barkley amid accusations that he dived during Premier League clash at Manchester City.

Did Ross Barkley dive? Was a yellow card justified?

According to Everton boss Roberto Martinez, the answer to both of the questions above is a resounding ‘no’.

He saw his England international midfielder booked for simulation during a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, following a coming together with Frank Lampard.

This is not the first time this season that the 21-year-old has been caught up in such a storm, with similar accusations levelled at him during a Premier League clash with West Ham United.

The Toffees remain adamant, though, that Barkley is being unfairly singled out and that he would only go to ground if touched and knocked off balance.

Martinez, who saw another contentious decision go against his side at the Etihad Stadium as Yaya Toure’s penalty settled the contest for the hosts, said: “I'm disappointed because that action was blown out of proportion.

"Ross went down because there was contact and he was expecting a leg to come through. Then he just got up, he wasn't complaining or trying to win a penalty. But it was a bad decision. Ross is such a strong and powerful boy and the amount of knocks he takes, but still stays on his feet - now he's getting punished for that. I couldn't believe the yellow card. I'm more hurt by that than the penalty decision.

"The penalty was two bodies coming together and then you see the same action, but because Ross Barkley is involved then he gets a yellow card. It's so inconsistent and disappointing. He's 21 and such an honest footballer. You don't get modern footballers of the quality of Ross - always wanting to stay on their feet.

"Yes, they are going to get unbalanced because of the pace and power that he goes at. Players come in and use all their strength, but he stays on his feet. Yes at times he will go to ground, but tell me when he won a penalty that wasn't a penalty? You can try to find simulation in the box, but I can't."

Simulation has always been a contentious subject, with modern players quick to point out that it does not take much to knock you out of your stride when moving at pace.

Match officials face an unenviable task, though, in trying to split the unsightly tumbles from the unfair tackles.

Barkley appears to be an honest lad but he needs to be wary of attracting unwanted attention, with the likes of Manchester United winger Ashley Young finding out the hard way that mud sticks and referees will often take reputations into account when making big decisions in the heat of battle.

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