Football just said:

Rochdale boss Hill tells critics to lay off Dele Alli ahead of FA Cup replay

Rochdale boss Keith Hill has told critics to lay off Dele Alli ahead
of the League One strugglers’ eagerly-awaited FA Cup replay against
Tottenham at Wembley.

Hill defended Alli’s right to go down after
he won a penalty in the pulsating 2-2 draw between the two sides at the
Crown Oil Arena earlier this month.

Since then Alli has attracted
further controversy having twice been accused of diving in Spurs’
Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Hill fears
Alli, one of England’s brightest prospects, is now gaining a reputation
for diving because of the criticism and that is unduly influencing
referees.

“I don’t agree with him being criticised,” Hill said. “I think he is an easy target. We should be protecting our best players.

“I think it is difficult for referees to make decisions because there is so much furore surrounding Dele Alli.

“Referees
should be neutral in their decision-making but it looks to me as though
they are second-guessing what Dele Alli is doing. I think that is
unfair on Dele Alli and the English game and, for me, I think it is
having an adverse effect on referees.”

Alli is one of a number of
Spurs players Rochdale – 10 points adrift of safety at the foot of
League One – will need to beware as they aim to pull off a shock in the
fifth-round rematch and reach the quarter-finals.

Hill hopes his team can shut out the glamour associated with Wembley and trouble the Champions League challengers.

“They
are one of the standout sides in the Premier League,” said Hill. “They
are quite special, they can attack you from every angle. You have to be
at your best defensively for 95 minutes.

“But we have done our due
diligence on Tottenham. We have got to focus on our own game plan and
not get carried away with the occasion or the trip and focus on the
processes we have to go through. We have to be better than we were
against Tottenham a week ago.”

Despite that, the opportunity to
play at the national stadium will make for a memorable occasion for the
Dale squad. The club have not played at Wembley since the 2008 League
Two play-off final.

“It is going to be an amazing opportunity for
everyone involved,” said striker Steve Davies, scorer of the late
equaliser that secured the replay. “We are under no illusions, it is
going to be tough, but we are going to go there and give our all.

“I’ve
been there a few times as a fan but I’ve never played there. It’ll be
something after the game’s over and the dust settles I’ll be able to
look back on and be proud of.”

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