Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere says it was "horrible" to hear Troy Deeney's scathing comments about his teammates this weekend, and insists the Watford striker's criticism was unjustified.
Deeney accused the Arsenal players of lacking "cojones" after Watford's 2-1 comeback win over the Gunners on Saturday, and said the team's defenders weren't up for a fight in the second half.
Wilshere admitted it was painful to hear such comments, but also launched a staunch defence of his teammates.
"As a player if your attitude is questioned, it's horrible. I look around this team and you can't question our character," Wilshere said at a news conference in Belgrade ahead of Thursday's Europa League game against Red Star.
"People try to put us down, they always have. I don't think the comments were justified. When we look back at the game we look back at ourselves and what we did wrong. I don't think we can look back and question our character.
"We did certain things wrong but we certainly didn't want to let the lead slip. We will move on. We have a game tomorrow and another big game at the weekend and we have seen with this team that the players can bounce back quick -- and we will do that.
"I'm sure individually the players are disappointed, no-one wants to hear those comments, [but] the players are entitled to their opinions and to talk, that's part of the modern-day game. We have to deal with that.
"All we can do is come back with a good performance tomorrow and a good performance at the weekend."
Manager Arsene Wenger brushed off Deeney's comments by saying they weren't worth listening to.
"Everyone is entitled to talk. After the game sometimes the enthusiasm of what happened can go a bit overboard. We don't listen to what people say -- we try to analyse our own game and get on with it," Wenger said.
"Yes [the comments hurt]. But I know who my players really are. In the last seven games we had six wins and one draw. Comments are part of the modern game, you have to live with that. I love my players and I trust their strength of character to respond quickly."