Manager Tony Mowbray has reiterated his support for Paul Robinson after the West Bromwich Albion defender was blasted by Steve Bruce following the defender's controversial red card in last Saturday's derby.
Robinson was sent off after leaving Birmingham City captain Damien Johnson with a broken jaw and facing two months on the sidelines as a result of a collision late in his team's 2-0 loss at St Andrew's.
Replays of the incident showed the full-back caught Johnson with his elbow which prompted Birmingham manager Bruce to liken the challenge to the one on Pedro Mendes that earned Ben Thatcher an eight-match ban earlier this season.
Although Robinson protested his innocence and claimed he was trying to avoid the Ulsterman, Bruce laid into the Albion defender and described his actions as 'horrific' and 'awful'.
"Robinson has turned his whole body to make sure he gets his elbow through," Bruce said.
"That can only damage people. It was horrific, it was awful and it was intended. He knew what he was doing."
But Mowbray, although refusing to get dragged into a bickering match with Bruce, yesterday stood by his man and said that he felt the incident was unfortunate rather than cynical.
"As a football supporter watching it I see a player trying to get out of the way of a challenge," Mowbray said. "I think he sees he is not going to get there and tries to get out of the way.
"I don't know where he can put his arms. I don't see any intent, I don't see any maliciousness – I see a collision between two players with momentum."
Mowbray also maintained that if he believed his player had done anything wrong, he would have acted accordingly.
He said: "As the manager of West Brom if I thought there was any intent or maliciousness we would be dealing with that and he would have been disciplined – that won't be the case.
"If I thought Paul Robinson had looked at him, gone viciously at him and smashed him I would be telling you that it was out of order and that he would be reprimanded."
He went on to back Robinson's robust style and point to the fact that the reaction of Birmingham's players did not suggest he had tried to seriously injure his opponent.
"He trains hard, he is very competitive and you can't deny he is a committed footballer, he doesn't pull out of tackles," Mowbray said. "But in that incident he knew he wasn't getting there, he could have gone in late – he didn't, he left the ground to avoid a challenge.
"There isn't a huge melee of people come screaming over and trying to cause bother like you see week in week out. I don't think their players thought there was any malice in it.
"If there was there would be 20 players around that ball in seconds."
As a result of his dismissal Robinson can expect to be suspended for Albion's next three matches starting with tonight's match at home to Queens Park Rangers.
By losing to Blues, West Brom missed the chance to be second in the Championship and ended a run of four league wins, a situation they will hope to reverse against John Gregory's Londoners tonight.
Rangers have had only one away win this season and are struggling in the nether regions of the division.
They are the sort of guests Mowbray and his charges want after Saturday's defeat, especially given their defensive record.
Before the weekend Albion had rattled in 14 goals in their previous four matches.
Rangers have one of the most porous rearguards in the Championship.
The chances of Kevin Phillips testing it are improving with the diminutive striker on the way back from a calf injury that has kept him out of the last four matches.
His return comes not a moment too soon with the pairing that took the field against Birmingham – Nathan Ellington and Dionmansy Kamara – missing a string of eminently convertible scoring chances.
John Hartson could also be back after being left out as a precaution against Birmingham but Darren Carter is unlikely to recover from his hamstring injury in time.
With Neil Clement still out of action, Robinson's suspension causes Mowbray something of a headache with little by way of cover on the left side of defence.