Ruben Zadkovich has dismissed claims by Sydney FC skipper Terry McFlynn that marquee player Alessandro Del Piero should be given more protection.
Newcastle Jets midfielder Ruben Zadkovich has dismissed claims by Sydney FC skipper Terry McFlynn that marquee player Alessandro Del Piero should be given more protection by referees.
Earlier this week McFlynn said creative players like Del Piero and Melbourne's Marcos Rojas were in danger of becoming fouled so often by opposition defences that they would end up injured and it was up to the referees to give them more protection.
But, speaking ahead of the teams' Round 19 clash at Hunter Stadium on Saturday, Zadkovich dismissed McFlynn's suggestion.
"I don't see why anyone deserves protection," Zadkovich countered when asked for his reaction to McFlynn's comments on Wednesday.
"He (Del Piero) has been good enough to score goals in the best competitions in the world and he has played at the international level and done the same thing. I am pretty sure he can handle himself.
"I don't see why the referees should be protecting him anymore than they should be protecting James Virgili (Jets winger).
"Terry McFlynn is a player who loves to get stuck in so it is a little bit ironic hearing those comments coming from him.
"But he is a good gamesman and he knows how to win matches and get the media hype on his side, so I am sure that is just a little bit of match play from him."
Zadkovich, who was suspended from Newcastle's 1-1 draw with the Phoenix last weekend after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, will be charged with the task of marking the Italian maestro this weekend.
But he denies he will try to foul him out of the game.
"It will just be another game for me," Zadkovich said.
"Obviously Del Piero is one in a million, he's a class player and definitely someone we've got to be wary of.
"When I was a kid I used to watch him on telly and now I am playing on the same pitch as him - it is a great experience but I won't be star struck when the whistle goes I can tell you that for sure."
The Jets midfielder did say it was imperative to restrict Del Piero's time on the ball, and is also wary of Jason Culina and former Jets striker Joel Griffiths, who will be playing against his old side for the first time in an A-League clash.
"When you have one good player like Del Piero he can cause you trouble but when they stick another good player like Culina in there is becomes a lot harder," Zadkovich said.
"Joel is a smart player - he knows when to make his run. He has scored a bundle of goals at this ground and he'll be looking to prove a point
"So it will be about not giving Del Piero too much time on the ball and the boys always being aware of where Joel is.
"Shutting down those two threats will probably go a long way towards winning the game."