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Football: Bow may be hammered.

Byline: Delme Parfitt

MATTHEW JONES admits he is bewildered at how his old Leeds Utd pal Lee Bowyer has become British football's prime hate figure.

The Welshman is in the same mould as Bowyer in terms of energy and no-nonsense tackling.

But crucially - and in the same way as all of football's genuine hardmen down the years - Jones marries on-field aggression with fairness and an off-the-field respect for others, something Bowyer has patently failed to achieve.

And Jones thinks deeply when asked for an assessment of the Premiership's public enemy No1."With me, I know the way I play, I'm a tough tackler and if the ball is there to be won I'll do all I can to win it," he said.

"With Lee Bowyer, he is a tough tackler, but does he want to hurt people?

"I got on well with him at Leeds as everyone did. But I just can't tell with him. I guess it's for others to decide.

"But I suppose in Bow's case a lot of it he has brought on himself."

And Jones fears that West Ham will not get the best out of their new signing until the press get off his back and quit jumping on Bowyer's every transgression.

"If it carries on like this he will feel hounded and they will never see the real Bow," he said.

"I really hope that somehow he can be left to get on with his football."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 19, 2003
Words:242
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