Roy Hodgson was left puzzled by referee David Coote’s decision to book James McCarthy during Crystal Palace’s defeat to Sheffield United.

The substitute was clipped by George Baldock as he cleared the ball away from deep inside his own half during the defeat, leaving McCarthy incensed.

After the two got into it on the edge of the pitch, with the midfielder putting a hand on Baldock's neck, Mr Coote dispersed the ensuing crowd of players before booking McCarthy.

It was one of several flashpoints during a feisty affair at Bramall Lane. The game was repeatedly stopped for fouls on Palace players as home supporters loudly voiced their frustrations.

Wilfried Zaha, who made his first Premier League start at United, drew several of them and, following the game, Hodgson was asked whether the forward received enough protection from officials.

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He said: “I don't want to start, after a defeat in a very important home game for Sheffield United, who are back in the Premier League after 12 years, discussing whether players got protection or whether players were being correctly treated by the referee.

“We certainly got a lot of free-kicks. I thought the referee identified the free-kicks well, so I didn't think there were many times in the game where I saw a foul against one of our players and the referee didn't give the free-kick.

“I certainly can't complain.

READ: Player ratings from Sheffield United 1 Crystal Palace 0

“My only regret and complaint, I suppose it is, is having seen McCarthy's ankle after that very nasty challenge that got him a yellow card.

“I still find it very difficult to understand how someone who is on the end of that type of challenge, and gets hurt as badly as he does, that they get a yellow card.

Despite Hodgson not elaborating on the extent of McCarthy’s injured ankle, he added: “As a football person I will always find that hard to accept but, having said that, I've got no criticisms of the referee's performance at all.

“I don't think our players were short of protection because, when they were fouled, they got the free-kicks.”