Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend has defended Premier League players and hit out at health secretary Matt Hancock for deflecting blame onto footballers.
Hancock said "the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part" when asked about whether players should have been taking pay cuts at big clubs.
So far non-playing staff have been the ones to take pay cuts during the coronavirus crisis, but talks are ongoing between players' union the Professional Footballers Association, the Premier League and the English Football League over the possibility of wage cuts or deferrals to keep afloat clubs.
The PFA is not against the idea of deferrals, but is adamant that players should only make any kind of salary sacrifice where there is a genuine need.
Townsend said footballers were an "easy target" and pointed to the charitable work he and some of his peers had been involved in since the pandemic began.
"Football is trying to do a lot of good. To wake up yesterday and see footballers being painted as villains was a bit of a surprise," he told talkSPORT.
"NHS workers have been underpaid for years. Only 2,000 of them have been able to be tested for coronavirus. This is not right, these people are putting their lives on the line to try and save lives.
"He is coming out and deflecting onto the easy targets, the footballers, and that doesn't sit right with me.
"We do have a responsibility but we are giving back to the community and rightly so. We are in a very privileged position. The community effectively pay our wages.
"At a time like this we need to give back."