Lampard: Jack was ‘star target’

By Graham Hill

FRANK Lampard believes Jack Grealish was targeted on Sunday at Blues because of his star quality.

genuine Derby boss Lampard is a fan of the Villa midfielder and recognises Grealish as a talent.

Lampard was on the receiving end of a pitch invader in 2007 when he was playing for Chelsea and was confronted by a Spurs fan at the end of an FA Cup quarter-final replay.

The fan aimed a punch at Lampard and missed – unlike Paul Mitchell who was jailed for 14 weeks for hitting Grealish from behind after running on to the pitch in the early stages of Sunday’s derby clash at St Andrew’s.

Lampard saw what Grealish is capable of at close quarters 10 days ago when the Villa skipper scored one of the goals of the season against Derby.

The Rams boss said: “I’m pleased for Jack that he was okay.

“Fortunately no-one was seriously injured, I don’t know him but he scored a great goal against us last week!

“Maybe the fans go for the talented players, these things are separate to that, he could have rugby tackled anyone, but typically they go for the star man.

“As for Jack, he came out of it with nothing but good things – it’s not the answer, but sometimes it’s how these things go.”

Lampard says the authorities must use the Grealish attack as a wake up call to stop it happening again – before a player is seriously injured.

The Derby manager added: “I’m not massively surprised we’re still talking about it 12 years on, these things tend to be a story for week and then we move on to something else.

“It goes away, and things stay pretty much the same.

“What we need is some firm action on the match day itself, the security and the penalties for anybody who wants to break that.

“We’re very soft on things in the modern day, that’s why I think we should be very strict on this.

“When it happened to me, he swung and missed, it wasn’t so much my agility, it was his swing.

“I didn’t like the experience but you have to deal with it.

“It’s not nice and an unfortunate part of being in the public eye, but it shouldn’t be.

“It’s how you deal with it, as for stamping it out, it’s how strong we are, we can be very lenient sometimes.”

Lampard admitted that that prospect of someone running on with a weapon was clear.

He added: “It’s an obvious fear for the players and everyone, maybe this can be a shock to the system to stop a more dangerous thing happening in the future.

“I wouldn’t want to see a return to fences, that’s not the solution.

“But it should go straight to the top of the agenda, it’s happened in Scotland, now it’s happening here, we need to get away from the culture that says ‘it’s okay’.

“it’s something that needs to be dealt with on two fronts, actively how do we stop it, and then after that, if one of 30,000 people gets on to the pitch, and especially if you’re going to go near a player, you get the full punishment that’s actually going to make you think twice about it.

“But it’s a concern, player safety is top of the list, security is one of the things that can be looked at.

“To stop one person is difficult.

“Then the deterrent has to be big. We should be very strict on it. It was a terrible incident with Jack.

“You shouldn’t be allowed to watch a match live if you do that.

“You have to serve a solid punishment, it’s not just going on the pitch and running around.

“It’s an attack on a player. I’m sure my players will be talking about it among themselves.

“It was a free hit and a blind hit. He didn’t stand a chance but demeanour afterwards was spot on.

“The players have it in the back of their minds that it could happen – but it shouldn’t happen.

“I hope they’re not playing with any fear over this, but they’ve been aware of it for many years.”

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