Noel Whelan has slaughtered the officials who failed to spot Everton loanee Jarrad Branthwaite’s high challenge on Middlesbrough’s Dael Fry on Sunday.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, said the failure to spot the “red card” offence was “appalling” and “pathetic” from referee Dean Whitestone and his assistants.

Branthwaite, on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Everton, was fortunate to stay on the pitch following a high challenge which left Boro midfielder Fry with a nasty gash under his eye.

Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock called the injury “horrific” and slammed referee Dean Whitestone for allowing the incident to go unpunished.

Whelan suggested Whitestone should be suspended for his failure to award a penalty and red card against Branthwaite, 18.

“How that is not a red card and a penalty I do not know,” he told Football Insider.

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“It is not intentional but the refereeing has to be better. The standard of refereeing is not good enough. It is an absolutely pathetic decision.

“Players get suspended and I believe referees should get suspended. That is one of the poorest decisions I have seen in a long, long time.

“How can a linesman not see that? All of the officials are to blame here because you can see it a mile off.

“Something needs to be done here because the lad could have had a career-ending injury there. It is just appalling how they missed it. It is dangerous play, absolutely.”    

In other news, Everton have been backed to sell a 28-year-old for £9million profit after a report from the Telegraph.