Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor says it might be necessary to introduce netting around pitches to protect players. Taylor was speaking after Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was hit by an object as his side celebrated a winner against Manchester City on Sunday.

“I think you’ve got to consider, as has been suggested, some netting in vulnerable areas,” said Taylor. Centre-back Ferdinand was seen bleeding from a cut above his left eye after being hit as United celebrated striker Robin van Persie’s goal in a 3-2 victory against their rivals.

While Ferdinand played down the incident in a tweet, the Football Association has opened an investigation into the incident, which has been condemned by Manchester City. City keeper Joe Hart also had to stop a fan, who had run on to the pitch, from reaching Ferdinand as the defender recovered from the blow.

But Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, believes introducing netting would not be the right solution. “Netting is not something we feel is necessary to have,” he said.

“No-one condones the throwing of missiles, but arrests last season were 24% down on previous seasons and not many social phenomenon alter that much.

“It is undoubtedly improving and before we start making knee-jerk reactions to particular incidents we ought to bear that in mind,” he said.

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