Joe Bennett claims this Sheffield Wednesday star needs more protection from referees

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The Owls loanee believes Fernando Forestieri is being unfairly treated by officials.

Sheffield Wednesday defender Joe Bennett has criticised referees' treatment of the club's top scorer Fernando Forestieri, telling the Sheffield Star that the Argentine needs more protection from officials.

Forestieri was sent off in a 0-0 draw at Hull City last week after he received a second yellow card for supposed simulation when he fell to the floor under a challenge from Michael Dawson.

That was the second match in a row in which the 26-year-old had been booked for diving, but he has since been backed by manager Carlos Carvalhal and his teammates who have claimed that he was merely trying to avoid the challenge.

Even Dawson himself admitted after that match that he had caught the forward, and Bennett, who is on loan at Hillsborough from Premier League side Aston Villa, insists that Wednesday's star man is no cheat.

Bennett told the Star: "Fernando is not a diver. He has been unlucky with a few decisions. Because he’s such a creative player, I think defences have to bring him down. Sometimes he has to get out of the way or he’s going to get hurt.

"I was right behind the Dawson challenge. It was a definite foul. I have seen the video back and Dawson caught Fernando, who could have easily got injured. We can’t appeal the yellow card and I think that’s something which needs addressing.

"The refs have got to protect Fernando more. He is a forward thinking player who is always going to try and create things. Referees have definitely got to look to protect the attacking and more skilful players."

Forestieri has been a key player at Hillsborough in his first season since joining from Watford in the summer, netting 12 goals in 27 Championship appearances.

However, he has now been sent off two matches in a row, and will consequently be suspended for the club's next two fixtures, a big blow to their promotion hopes.

Wednesday are sixth in the Championship table, occupying the last play-off spot but nine points off an automatic promotion place.

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