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Tottenham’s England striker Jermain Defoe has tried to play down an incident in Sunday’s game against West Ham when he bit Javier Mascherano’s arm.

Defoe said the bite, in retaliation to a lunging tackle from Mascherano, had been blown out of all proportion.

In a statement the 24-year-old explained: “When the West Ham player fouled me, I reacted in a bit of a mischievous way – my character is a little like that at times.

“The referee was standing right over me and, if he felt I had done anything bad, he would have sent me off.

“The incident doesn’t look great on TV and I accept that as a role model to kids I have a responsibility to conduct myself in the right way, which I always try to do on and off the pitch.”

Sports minister Richard Caborn has urged the FA to examine video evidence of the incident.

Caborn told The Times: “Any action like this I hope the authorities will decide on. I have said time and again that players in these positions have a great responsibility to set a good example.”

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