IAN Evatt wants more protection for his “loveable rogue” Dapo Afolayan.

Fouled nearly 100 times this season at a rate of 2.67 per 90 minutes, only MK Dons winger Scott Twine has had rougher treatment in League One this season.

Afolayan was once again the most fouled player on the pitch in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic – and though the home supporters gave him a rough ride, Evatt felt he did not get fair treatment from referee Samuel Barrott.

“I just think that sometimes he has unfairly of having a reputation for diving, but if you’re fouled, you’re fouled,” he said.

“I thought some of the tackles on him were poor and mistimed and that’s where you need the referees to ignore noise and so-called reputations and give the right decision on a day and I don’t think we got the right decision with McClean’s second yellow in particular.”

Afolayan got a hostile reception at Wigan and has managed to rile a few away grounds on his travels this season.

Evatt wouldn’t have it any other way.

“He’s a lovable rogue and he’s one of those players and there’s been a few over the years that we love him and want him in our team but every opposition hates him,” he said.

“Whether he gets on the wrong side of them or winds them up, I don’t know and I don’t really care to be honest because we think he’s a fantastic young player and we’ll protect him as best we can.”

Evatt also believes Afolayan is making good progress adjusting to a new position after moving off the left side of attack to a spot behind the central strikers.

“It’s a different kind of position because usually he’s used to receiving it wide on the half turn and he can see the full picture,” the manager explained.

“When you’re playing in a number 10, you need to play 360, you need to scan, you need to have a picture before you receive and receiving back to goal isn’t easy.

“It’s a difficult skill. I think he’s improving at that and his intelligence is taking up some decent positions at times, but there’s still work to be done.”