BOSS Eddie Howe has leapt to the defence of Simon Francis after claims the Cherries skipper should have seen red during the eventful Boxing Day draw with West Ham.

Francis received a yellow card after his high challenge had caught West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate in the face, an incident which sparked ugly scenes among players and staff from both camps.

West Ham boss David Moyes was joined in his condemnation of referee Bobby Madley's decision by former Premier League officials Keith Hackett and Dermot Gallagher.

Moyes acknowledged the challenge had not been malicious but still felt Francis should have been sent off, while Hackett – writing in his column in The Telegraph – described it as "a definite red-card offence".

And Gallagher, speaking to Sky Sports, said he also felt Madley had been too lenient with Francis and should have dismissed him.

Howe told the Daily Echo: "I had a great view of it and it was right in front of me.

"The ball went over Simon's head and he was looking at the ball. He had no idea the West Ham player was there.

"It was a nasty incident and I am not going to say it was nice for the lad to receive Simon’s boot in his face but there was no intent.

"And if there is no intent in a situation like that there is no way he can be sent off."

Hackett's column read: "Simon Francis’s studs-high challenge on Cheikhou Kouyate was a definite red-card offence.

"The Bournemouth defender’s boot was high and dangerous and could have caused serious injury to the West Ham midfielder.

"Officials have a duty of care to protect players. Madley was also letting his colleagues down by failing to adequately punish such as reckless challenge as this. It sends out completely the wrong message."

Asked by the Daily Echo for his take on the challenge, Moyes said: "If one of my players had done it then everybody would have been screaming for him to be banned for six or seven games.

"I didn’t think Francis looked at the player, he continually looked at the ball.

"But I can think of a lot of challenges that get knocked up. You are never looking at the opposition player and you just raise your arm slightly and people are saying that you are throwing your elbows around.

"So, if you are saying it for one then you have to say it for the other as well.

"I think in any other country in the world that would have been a sending off. Not because I think he deliberately meant it. I don’t think he meant it.

"I just think if you do that and you are caught in that situation you are certainly liable to be sent off."

Hackett, Gallagher and Moyes also felt Madley had been wrong to overturn his assistant's decision to rule out Callum Wilson's late leveller.