Victimised?

Monday 14 January 2002

Barry Hayles has not normally been associated with foul play - but this is not a normal season and the Fulham striker feels he is being victimised.

Last week, Hayles discovered he had been charged with misconduct by the Football Association twice in 24 hours.

He blotted his copybook further in the 2-1 win over Middlesbrough by picking up another booking, his sixth of the season, after tangling with Paul Ince.

His overall performance was lacklustre and the 29-year-old admitted that the events of the past week had affected him.

Hayles said: 'I'd already decided that I was not going to tackle as much, just in case. But I still got booked anyway.

'Everything seems to be against me. You could say I get picked on a bit by referees. That's the way I feel at the moment.'

Picked on or not, Hayles faces a possible six-match ban if he is found guilty by the FA following his part in a fracas during Fulham's clash with Everton and his alleged clash with West Ham's Hayden Foxe.

Hayles added: 'I only got one booking up to November and then, within a month, I've got six. But I haven't changed anything, I've always played the same way.

'I came on against Wycombe on Tuesday, made one challenge and was immediately brought up for it.

'I asked the ref what he was giving a free-kick for and he booked me, saying I used abusive language, which I know I didn't. It's frustrating.'

Hayles could find himself out in the cold when Fulham take on the Second Division side in their FA Cup third-round replay at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.