By Richard Clarke in Moscow 

Jens Lehmann is calling for goalkeepers to receive greater protection and respect after a recent spate of injuries.

Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini were both stretchered off after challenges in Chelsea's game at Reading over the weekend. Shay Given is currently out of action with a rib problem and, last season, Mark Schwarzer had to wear a mask after receiving a bang on the face.

Lehmann is worried that if this trend continues the injuries could be far more serious.

"First of all let me say that I hope both Carlo Cudicini and Petr Cech recover quickly," he said in an exclusive interview with "When it happened I really felt sorry for both keepers. It made me really, really angry too. We're here two days later and I'm still upset because it happened to Schwarzer and Shay Given. Now it's happened to Peter Cech and Carlo Cudicini. All of them are great keepers, very brave, they never went to challenge or harm the striker but all four of them got knocked out due to 'clumsy' challenges.

"This word clumsy makes me really angry as well because these stupid pundits on TV they say sometimes 'it's clumsy' and 'it's a man's game'. Yes it is a man's game but what you have to consider as well is these men have children and wives and their children don't want to see their fathers end up with lifelong damage, driven around in a wheelchair or not being able to work anymore.

"I have never injured a player in my life and I really want to retain this record because I respect my opponents. But now if they want to have a go at me then I will have to change my game because there is no protection from the referees. The referee Mike Riley did not even whistle on Cudicini's foul and has even asked Petr Cech to leave the pitch. Did he not know that as a goalkeeper you are allowed to be treated on the pitch?

"People talk about the foul of Michael Essien on Dietmar Hamman last season. I think it was a foul, of course, but it could have meant a broken leg. That would be a bad injury but what is a broken leg compared to a broken neck or to brain damage?

"I know when I go on the pitch there is a risk of being injured. You can't take this risk out. But what you can do is make statements on these intended challenges that people make on the keeper. They don't have any risk when challenging a keeper like that. In fact all these fouls are made out of a safe situation where these players can not be hurt themselves.

"I'm worried because my game is based on coming off the line so I'm a potential target. I know that people sometimes laugh about me when I make them aware ahead of corners or prior to free-kicks when people only come into challenge me, to push me or to elbow me but now you see that for these keepers it was a really bad outcome.

"I know the English League is more physical than most but here you do not respect your keepers. Having played in other countries, I know that referees offer more protection to keepers. There is a discrepancy between England and abroad on this issue."

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Richard Clarke 16 Oct 2006