Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce defends Mike Dean ahead of Tottenham clash

The official has been in the spotlight after his decision to send off West Ham's Sofiane Feghouli for a challenge on Manchester United's Phil Jones on Monday

The Hammers won an appeal against the red card and boss Slaven Bilic said it was Jones who should have been dismissed instead

Ex-top flight referees Graham Poll and Mark Halsey have also been critical of Dean, who has been a Premier League official since 2000, this week

But despite the controversy, Bruce is happy with Dean and defended referees ahead of Villa's FA Cup third-round game at White Hart Lane on Sunday

Bruce said: " It's a hard job

I tried to referee this morning

All of them do a fabulous job

Yes we criticise them but it's so fast now

Mike Dean is a very good referee and has proved that over the years

" Everything has changed, everything has got quicker

Human beings have got quicker, balls have, the grass is better, surfaces, everything is quicker - including referees

"They have to go through a tough training regime too, let's not forget that, especially Premier League ones

To get there you have to do a rigorous fitness programme

They have a really hard job and it's very difficult, especially now, when there's a camera at every angle

"Of course they make mistakes which we're on the end of but overall they do a fantastic job

The Premier League referees for me, when you see the rest of Europe, are very, very good."

Bruce could give Manchester United loanee Sam Johnstone a debut on Sunday after the goalkeeper joined on Thursday

He added: "I must thank Jose Mourinho for letting me bring him here

He's just the type I think can improve."

Source : PA

Source: PA