Vlad: I Was Impaled!

Vladimir Labant has responded to Middlesbrough's claim that the sending off of Ugo Ehiogu on Saturday was unfair.

Vlad was upended as he broke through on the left in the 88th minute and referee Chris Foy had no hesitation in brandishing a second yellow card to the England defender.

Ehiogu claimed that Vladimir rolled over his foot, and Paul Ince said after the game: "Believe it or not, I think the referee had quite a good game, but the linesman who gave the first booking on Ugo was a disgrace."

Ince was booked for protesting at Ehiogu's expulsion and admits: "I always lose my rag a bit but their player made a meal of the second foul. He went down like he had been shot and that's why I lost it.

"As for the first card, Ugo got in front of him, he pulled him back, Ugo fell on the ball and handballed it."

But Vladimir, himself booked for a foul on Ince in the first half, insists: "I think it was a fair sending off because he had already had a yellow card - and it was a bad tackle on me.

"We were three on two and it would definitely have been a good chance for us to score.

"It was a very important game and it is so vital to beat teams around us in the table and keep winning the home games.

"I am happy with my football but I hope it will get better every time, and keep improving."

Vladimir set up the chance for Fredi to score the winner against Boro when he received a 'return' pass from goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer as he attempted to clear the Slovakian's through-ball on the left flank.

Ehiogu admitted after the game that Schwarzer's kicking is not the best, and so it proved as the astonished Labant played it back into the danger zone.

But for those who thought it was a shot that kindly fell to Fredi Kanoute to score, he insists: "At first I went to shoot but I saw one of their players running back to cover the goal and then Fredi, so I went to pass it to him."

Vlad says he is feeling more and more at home, and adds: "My family are settling and, like me, are doing everything to learn English quickly."

Next up is the trip to Aston Villa, and when he is asked about why the Hammers are so poor away in stark contrast to the home form, his reply is a masterful example of Slovak diplomacy: "I try to always give 100% and win every game, whether home or away."