ASTON Villa boss Dean Smith said Tyrone Mings had been the victim of a “witch hunt” following the incident which left Nelson Oliveira with gruesome facial wounds.

On-loan defender Mings, making his Villa debut, caught the head of the Reading frontman with his boot as the pair tussled for the ball.

Oliveira required surgery having sustained a broken nose and deep cuts to his face.

Former players Dean Ashton and Dave Kitson were among those to criticise Mings and ex-referee Mark Halsey urged the Football Association to take action.

As the incident was spotted by the match officials at the time, no charges are set to be brought against the former non-league ace.

Mings was banned for five games in March 2017 after stepping on the head of Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic during Cherries’ 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

The towering centre-half insisted it had been an accident, a stance backed by Cherries.

Reflecting on Saturday’s events at Madejski Stadium, Smith told the Express & Star: “It felt to me like it became a bit of a witch hunt for somebody who was assumed to have stamped before because he got banned by the FA.

“Nobody knows if he stamped then. But for me this was a total accident.

“Sometimes in any contact sport, accidents happen and that was one of them. I am absolutely convinced (it wasn’t deliberate).”