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Young: Players need more protection from fans

Manchester United's Ashley Young has called for greater protection for players after his team's 2-0 English Premier League loss at Arsenal was disrupted by a fan running onto the pitch and shoving his teammate Chris Smalling.

The incident was one of several involving rogue fans over the weekend, with pitch invasions occurring in the Scottish Premiership, the English Championship, as well as the EPL.

A fan confronted Rangers captain James Tavernier in their 1-1 draw with Hibernian in Scotland on Friday, while Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was punched in the face by a fan during Sunday's 1-0 win at local rivals Birmingham City.

"That's the third time a fan has managed to get on the pitch (this weekend)," Young said.

"What if they are carrying something? The players will be in danger.

"It's definitely something the FA, the Premier League and Fifa have got to do something about.

"I don't know if it's extra stewarding or what, but it's a concern with the one earlier today and the one on Chrissy. Something has got to be done."

His views were echoed by former England striker Alan Shearer, who wrote in his Sun column: "It is absolutely disgusting and if we don't stamp it out now, next time it could be a knife."

The supporter who invaded the pitch at Arsenal and the fan who punched Grealish were both arrested by police.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said the attack on boyhood Villa fan Grealish was "disgraceful" and "cowardly".

He has called on the Football Association to work with the government, police and stewards at the grounds to help stamp out such incidents.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery, meanwhile, condemned the incident at the Emirates Stadium, while Arsenal issued an apology to Smalling and United.

"I don't want that," Emery said when asked about the pitch invasion. "It's not in my control. I think we can enjoy the support, today I think they helped us, but we need to do it with respect." - AFP, REUTERS