Sheffield Wednesday have accused Brighton forward Kazenga LuaLua of recklessly injuring goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in Tuesday’s clash at Hillsborough.
There was a long hold-up in stoppage time after Kirkland had been flattened in challenging Seagulls substitute LuaLua in the penalty area.
It was the Owls shot-stopper who came off worse from the tangle and it appeared the 32-year-old would have to be carried off on a stretcher and be replaced by Damian Martinez.
But after receiving treatment for several minutes, Kirkland eventually got to his feet and completed the match.
Speaking after their 1-0 victory over Brighton, Owls head coach Stuart Gray said Kirkland had damaged his nose and sustained a cut to his head following his collision with LuaLua, claiming he felt a “little bit dazed and sore”.
Kirkland, who attended his post-match interviews with a plaster on his nose, said: “I had got the ball in my hands and I think he’s just decided to go straight through me. It was the landing more than anything. I landed heavily on my head.”
Gray, in a radio interview, said: “I thought Chris had to come off. I think the lad has gone to do him because Chris says he had the ball in his hands. But goalkeepers are brave and he showed that tonight. He got his clean sheet. Credit Chris for carrying on.”
But Gray later said: “I think he [Kirkland] had the ball in his hands. I don’t know if the boy [LuaLua] has done it deliberately or whatever. It just seemed a nasty one.”
After watching the Owls claim their fourth win in a row at Hillsborough, a result which moved them up to 13th in the Championship standings, Gray wants his players to keep performing ahead of their clash with Watford.
The Wednesday chief, who is expected to allow striker Gary Madine to leave on loan today, said: “We’ve got eight games to go and we want to get as many points as we can. Who knows where it will take us. I don’t want any complacency.”
Kirkland believes the second-tier of English football is impossible to predict.
“Anyone can beat anyone in this league,” he said. “Nobody would have given Barnsley any chance of winning at Reading the other night. That’s why everybody loves football. It drives you mad at times.
“We’re not thinking about other teams. The gaffer instilled that in us - we’re not looking below us; he wants us to look up.”
The Owls are 16 points clear of trouble but Kirkland refuses to take anything for granted, saying: “It’s vital that we stay in this league - every team will tell you the same. If we can stay in the league and Stu [Gray] can wheel and deal in the summer, hopefully we can have a push next year.”