GRAVESEN IN SHOCK FROM HORROR TACKLE

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EVERTON midfielder Thomas Gravesen says that he will never forget the horror tackle by Tottenham's Mauricio Taricco that could have broken his leg and ended his season.

The Danish international spent the night in hospital after plastic surgeons had attended to the injury that required 30 stitches.

Taricco's studs-up challenge put a hole in Gravesen's leg above his foot and surgery on his bone was needed after the challenge that The Dane says still leaves him shocked.

"It was the most awful tackle that has ever been made on me, and I will never forget the sight that greeted me after I got to my feet," said Gravesen.

"I could feel straightaway that something was wrong, and when I looked down there was this hole that went through my sock and all the way through to the bone near my ankle.

"There was no blood, just a big hole in the bone, and I can remember Walter Smith shouting at me to go down again so I could get some attention. I went numb.

"I did not scream or pass out, but I could not bear to look at it again. As I lay there, all sorts of thoughts went through my mind.

"I knew I had not broken my leg because I had been able to stand up. But I knew it was serious because within an hour of leaving the ground, I was on the operating table in hospital.

"A plastic surgeon operated on me for 15 minutes to repair the damage to the bone, and there are about 30 stitches in the wound. It is a terrible blow to miss games for Everton and Denmark but, in a way, I am lucky. If the tackle had been a bit higher, it would have broken my leg.

"If Taricco wants to apologise to me, he is welcome to. I am not so much angry with him as bewildered at how a player who has had such a long injury lay-off himself could commit such a rash challenge that was always likely to cause damage."

Even Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle was shocked by Taricco's tackle and publicly reprimanded his player after the game, a move that was welcomed by the stricken Gravesen's.

"I was very pleased to hear what the Spurs manager had to say about the incident.

"It shows he is fair-minded and a gentleman, and his reaction can only benefit the game as a whole. Football is a hard game, but no-one should go out and try to injure an opponent. Hoddle has made that clear with his remarks, and I salute him for that.

"I watched television pictures of the tackle after coming out of hospital, and I was almost as shocked as when it happened. I could not believe what I was seeing, and it makes me shudder to think of what might have been.

"It is an unfortunate way to start the season, but everyone at Everton has been good to me and the national manager Morten Olsen has included me in the Denmark squad to face Northern Ireland and Bulgaria. I may not be fit for those games, but it is a gesture that has lifted my spirits."

Taricco went unpunished for his tackle by referee David Elleray, unlike Gary Doherty and Gustavo Poyet, who were both controversially sent off, with Poyet now pleading with the official to reduce his red card.

The Uruguayan faces a three-match ban for the straight red card, which would rule him out of the game against his former club Chelsea.

"To miss the Chelsea game would be unbelievable," said Poyet. "This is the first time I've had a red in England and I hope the referee changes it to a yellow."