West Ham boss Sam Allardyce believes that striker Andy Carroll's size means that he does not receive enough protection from referees.
The England international has yet to score for the Hammers since arriving on loan from Liverpool at the end of the summer transfer window and his manager feels that teams illegally target the towering centre forward when they are unable to cope with his power and aerial prowess.
"Referees aren't giving him enough free kicks when he is manhandled by central defenders who, let’s face it, are having a difficult job coping with the quality that he's got," Allardyce told reporters.
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"Because he is six-foot-three, they don't give the free kicks they would perhaps give to a five-foot-two player. Perhaps it's a subconscious thing. Andy knows all that. He's been there and has to be patient with it."
The east London club lost 2-1 away to Wigan in a match in which Carroll had little success controlling long balls and turning them into opportunities.
And Allardyce felt that his side's failure to get on the scoresheet until a late consolation goal from James Tomkins owed something to their opponents' rough tactics.
"He was bringing balls down on his chest, getting nudged as he was bringing them down, but not getting the free kick so it makes it look like he’s giving away possession when it’s not really his fault," the manager continued.
"But we can't look at the referee and say he’s particularly cost us this game. We did more than enough ourselves to cause that."
The Latics took the lead through Ivan Ramis' first-half volley and his team-mates went on to command possession and extend their lead shortly after half-time through James McArthur.
|"The defence had to deal with situations on a constant basis. The rest of the players are not doing their job to protect them"
- Sam Allardyce
"The overall team performance was disappointing," Allardyce commented.
"The defence had to deal with situations on a constant basis and if you allow that to happen it's going to be a difficult day. The rest of the players are not doing their job in front of them to protect them.
"That was down to us as a unit not doing enough in possession – not keeping the ball, playing the ball in the right areas, not taking the ball and playing quality balls to our front three.
"It just never happened today, the quality wasn't good enough."