BRISBANE Roar's French star Eric Bautheac fears he's on the verge of being seriously injured such has been the rough treatment he has received since arriving in the A-League.
Bautheac has been heavily targeted since making his A-League debut in Round 3 on October 23.
In terms of fouls "won" a game, the former Lille winger is fourth this season with an average of 2.6, according to Fox Sports stats.
Melbourne Victory star James Troisi tops the list with 4.8 a game, ahead of his teammate Leroy George (3.4) and Wellington Phoenix midfielder Goran Paracki (2.9).
"There is a lot more contact here," Bautheac said.
"I'm surprised. In France it's different, there's not as much.
"It's every week here ¬ the players here are rough."
Bautheac felt he needed more protection from referees.
"For the moment, I'm not broken (injured), but again, again, again, again … something will happen," he said.
Roar coach John Aloisi said the onus was on referees to protect players of Bautheac's ilk.
"And I'm sure they will," Aloisi said
"I understand that teams want to stop Eric, but we've got to make sure that players like him aren't kicked out of games."
Despite the heavy attention, Bautheac produced a man-of-the-match display in the Roar's 2-0 away win over Western Sydney Wanderers last Saturday.
With fellow attacking weapons Brett Holman and Fahid Ben Khalfallah injured, Bautheac felt the need to step up a gear.
"It was a good win for us and we needed it to come up the ladder," the 30-year-old winger said.
"Fahid and Brett are very good players, so without them I lifted my level to help the team.
"I'm feeling better and better each game."
That's great news for the Roar, but probably not something the last-placed Phoenix want to hear ahead of their clash with Brisbane at Gold Coast venue Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.
The Roar trained at the Robina ground on Tuesday, with the immaculate surface a pleasant change to their usual training field at Ballymore.
Roar captain Matt McKay was full of praise for Bautheac.
"He's been great," McKay said.
"He's good on the dribble, which really helps us. He can get in those positions where he can really cause defenders trouble and then be able to dribble them and create things.
"He's a tough boy as well. He's getting kicked a lot and needs more protection. Even though he's getting battered, he's been really good for us."