Aston Villa defender Luke Young has admitted Emile Heskey could easily have been sent off for barging into referee Mike Jones during Saturday's home clash with Wigan.
Young believes Heskey behaved in an uncharacteristic fashion because he was receiving no protection from the Cheshire official after being on the end of several robust challenges.
Heskey overreacted after being sent crashing to the ground following an aerial clash with Latics defender Antolin Alcaraz.
He made physical contact with Jones and then stared at the official but only received a yellow card.
Heskey was still in an angry mood at half-time and is understood to have been restrained by team-mates and staff.
He was substituted and left Villa Park without watching the second half.
Defender Young said: "Emile was disappointed that the referee wasn't looking after him and he felt that he got elbowed deliberately a couple of times.
"He got pretty frustrated and I think the best thing to do was maybe to make the change and let him calm down a little bit.
"You've seen people go (get sent off) for less, I've got to be honest with you. Perhaps we were a little bit lucky he didn't get sent off.
"But Emile is pretty sure he got an elbow straight through the back of the head.
"He was frustrated and the best thing to do was to make the change."