CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe warned against diluting football’s physicality and insisted: “You have to be careful you don’t outlaw things too much.”

Manchester City chiefs had today been set to meet referees’ chief Mike Riley to discuss Pep Guardiola’s views over punishments for bad challenges.

The City boss has regularly revealed concerns over the vigour of tackling in England, with the Premier League leaders calling for incidents deemed as yellow card offences to be retrospectively punished further.

One of nine cases cited by the Etihad Stadium outfit included the challenge by Cardiff City’s Joe Bennett on winger Leroy Sane in the teams’ FA Cup fourth-round tie at the end of January.

Speaking after that incident, Guardiola said: “I have said many times, the only thing the officials have to do is protect the players. Please protect the players. Not the Manchester City players, all the players.

“The only thing they can do is that – protect the players – or it will happen again. The players are the artists and you have to take care of them.”

Last month, City winger Raheem Sterling claimed his team-mates had been “butchered” by reckless tackles this season.

While Howe insists player safety is imperative, he believes too much protection could reduce the intensity of the English game.

Speaking generally about the issue, he told the Daily Echo: “No one wants to see bad or reckless tackles which injure a player. Of course you want to take out the high challenges and the ones around the kneecaps – there is no place for that in football. But I think you have to be careful you don’t outlaw things to the point it becomes a non-contact sport.

“That element of the game is very important to the standard we deliver in English football. I’m not just talking about the Premier League but all levels.

“I think it has a physicality and that ability to put your body on the line and defend at all costs. I wouldn’t want to change that too much.

“When I watch a lot of games around the world, there are some fouls which would never be given in our league and I wouldn’t want them to be.

“You want the game to flow and don’t want it to be too stop-start. The game should be about the football, not about constant restarts.”

Asked about the prospect of retrospectively upgrading yellow card offences, Howe replied: “It could be a way to take away the really bad challenges.

“We are going into a day and age where there is a lot of reviewing of decisions. That seems to be very popular in the game.

“I just hope it doesn’t interfere with what you see on the pitch.”