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Collymore in grudge row

ASTON VILLA coach John Gregory admitted last night that a vicious tackle by Stan Collymore on Liverpool's Steve Harkness was motivated by revenge.

Collymore alleged he was the victim of racial abuse after a clash with Harkness the last time these two teams met, which came just after he had left Liverpool for Villa.

Yesterday's horror tackle on Harkness left the Anfield star writhing in agony. He had to be stretchered off amid fears that his leg was broken.

After game which Villa lost 4-2 with Robbie Fowler netting a hat-trick, John Gregory said Collymore was guilty of a grudge attack on Harkness. He said: "It was a grudge. He was probably lucky to stay on for the challenge."

Collymore who was later sent off for pushing Michael Owen, denied he was out to get the 27-year-old wing back.

He said: "There was no malice and no intent in that tackle. If it had been anyone else I'd have gone in for the ball in exactly the same way. I did not even know it was him."

He said there was no "spill over" from the clash in February. After that game he reported Harkness to the FA for an alleged racial slur.

"These things happen. If the referee thought it had been that kind of challenge he would have sent me off for it."

Harkness was quietly seething with anger despite Liverpool's superb 4- 2 win. He said: "I thought I'd broken my leg. But it turned out to be stretched ligaments. I've been told not to say anything more about it."

Gregory said he wouldn't be taking any action against his striker and did not blame him for retaliating against Owen - a move which led to Collymore's second yellow card.

"Owen topped Stan and got away with it said Gregory. "Everyone thinks Owen is sweet and innocent but I think he's a baby-faced assassin."

Copyright - Sunday Mirror

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