Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan has defended Callum McManaman's tackle on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara.

The Latics' forward went in strongly on Haidara and caught him on the knee-cap, which forced the Newcastle defender off on a stretcher.

The tackle was not punished by referee Mark Halsey, with replays showing that his view was possibly obscured by a Newcastle player, resulting in him missing the challenge. However, many people were left asking how the assistant referee Matthew Wilkes missed it as he was right next to the incident.

The challenge drew widespread criticism during Wigan's 2-1 victory over Newcastle and, at half-time, Magpies assistant manager John Carver was sent to the stands after getting into a tussle with Callum McManaman and Wigan's assistant manager Graham Barrow. 

The challenge was similar to Roy Keane's challenge on Alf-Inge Haaland back in 2001 and many now fear that Haidara has damaged the ligaments in his knee that could see him out for many months.

Despite the horror tackle, Whelan has defended his player and insists that it was a fair challenge as the ball was there to play for.

Whelan told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The ball was there. Young McManaman went in for the ball and got the ball as clean as a whistle, but in the follow through they collided.

"The referee saw it all, he had a clear view on that. He hasn't gone over the ball. That's an accident.

"There is not one ounce of malice in Callum McManaman. He is an enthusiastic young boy. He has got great prospects. He was very upset by it all."


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