Livingston midfielder Burton O’Brien admits team-mate Jason Talbot is an “aggressive” player – but insists the defender’s reckless challenge on Hearts’ Sam Nicholson was completely unintentional.
The Lions captain, 29, has been criticised for his tackle on Nicholson in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by the Jambos, which caught the teenager on the side of the head. Nicholson required several stitches to gashes on his face and was subsequently substituted in order to receive medical treatment.
Referee Brian Colvin booked Talbot for the offence, but the full-back could now face further sanctions after it was revealed the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer intends to speak to the match official regarding the incident.
However, O’Brien was quick to jump to the defence of the full-back, saying: “I know Jason is an aggressive player but I genuinely think he was going for the ball. I don’t think there was any malice on his part.
“There were a few meaty tackles during the match and quite a lot of yellow cards, but these things happen in football. If you’re going to stop and freeze pictures throughout the season we’d be here all day so we move on. The referee dealt with the incident at the time and that’s all he can do.”
O’Brien admits the Livi dressing-room was left hugely frustrated by the weekend’s narrow defeat, the club still three points adrift of nearest rivals Cowdenbeath and Alloa at the foot of the division. However, the former Falkirk and Sheffield Wednesday player is adamant they have nothing to fear ahead of this weekend’s return match at Tynecastle.
“We put a lot of hard work into the game, so to come away with nothing was frustrating, but our fight is going to be against the likes of Alloa and Cowdenbeath,” he said.
“But we will go and have a go again. We obviously respect Hearts as they’re a good team, but Saturday showed they are human beings like everybody else and if you go and put pressure then you can nick the ball of them and cause them problems.”