Stoke City: We don't go crying to referees, claims hard man Wilkinson
ANDY Wilkinson says Stoke's battle-hardened defenders will refuse to play the victim amid flying head-butts, elbows and right hooks.
Stoke were on the wrong end of some rough treatment dished out by Everton in a 1-1 draw, with Marouane Fellaini landing a blow on Ryan Shawcross on more than one occasion.
• GALLERY: Match Action: Stoke City 1 Everton 1
But right-back Wilkinson insisted it's a man's game and the Potters won't be found crying to the referee.
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No Stoke players chased or surrounded Mark Halsey even when Shawcross was floored while defending a corner in the second half, with Jon Walters pulling his captain to his feet by the back of his shirt rather than lick his wounds.
Instead, Wilkinson, man-of-the-match on his return to the team in place of suspended Ryan Shotton, praised Halsey for keeping his cards in his pocket to allow a fast-flowing game to keep its pace.
He said: "It was always going to be a strong, physical game and I thought the ref handled it quite well. He let a lot of it go and let the contest continue. Other refs might have been blowing up and shown a few yellow cards.
"We don't moan or try to get people sent off, I think that's part of the team we are. The gaffer's been building this for nearly 10 years, they're the sort of players he brings in, all great lads who work hard for the team and want to get on with it.
"We knew it was going to be a physical match up and I'm sure Ryan could give as good as he gets.
"I didn't see the head-butt, my back was to it. Ryan doesn't stay down for no reason so I'll leave that to the powers that be to deal with. Ryan won't complain, he'll just get on with it.
"If they need to be dealt with and it is out of order when they look at the video – I got banned retrospectively for something I didn't mean earlier this season – then you have to put your hands up and take your punishment."
Wilkinson says he and his team-mates should set an example to fans on how to deal with the rough and tumble of Premier League football and it does not involve waving imaginary cards or rolling around on the floor.
He said: "Ryan is club captain and a role model to everyone in the crowd, he dealt with (what happened with Fellaini) well.
"It was a physical game and we expected that, they probably expected it from us too.
"It's part of the game we've lost over the years, but the crowds like to see a good physical match up, they certainly do at Stoke."
Wilkinson had missed four matches since hobbling off injured in a 1-1 draw at West Ham last month and only got another chance because Shotton received two yellow cards at Aston Villa.
He says whoever is given a first-team shirt is feeling a duty to help Stoke maintain their defensive record.
"It's never easy to come back and play when you've been out for a few weeks. I was just happy to have my name on the team sheet. We've got a good squad and everyone's doing their bit," he said.
"We defend as a team, it's not just the back four and Asmir (Begovic). It's the midfield, the wingers helping the full-backs out and the forwards doing their part. It's what we work on every day and it's a credit to the gaffer."