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Wednesday 13th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

UNDER-FIRE England manager Mark Sampson was left looking foolish yesterday as he attempted to gloss over any fears of a rift with defender Lucy Bronze.

Sampson, who has been accused of racism and bullying by striker Eni Aluko, put his hands on Bronze’s shoulders during a training session at St George’s Park.

But pictures show the defender rejected his attempts of encouragement, shrugging Sampson off as she stood up.

It came as Sampson is under increasing scrutiny, but he rejected suggestions he and Lyon’s Bronze, who has 48 caps, had a problem.

“No, absolutely not,” he claimed. “With the players we’re working with we have a fantastic working relationship, the environment within the team is very positive.

“I can’t even recall it [the incident]. I was pleased with the session, the players worked really hard.

“Bronzy has done exceptionally well. Let’s not forget at Euro 2013 she didn’t play and since then she has played a significant role in helping the team getting to where we have. She is a great character and a really good player.”

Sampson has denied the allegations made by Aluko and was cleared of any wrongdoing by both an internal Football Association review and an independent investigation.

Last week Sampson broke his silence on the matter to insist his “conscience is clear,” and expressed his desire to move on.

The squad are currently preparing for next Tuesday’s opening World Cup qualifier against Russia in Tranmere and Sampson says he has spoken to the players about the issues surrounding his leadership.

He added: “It’s something we addressed when we first met up, to make it clear what the current situation was and the latest update. “The players are fully aware of where we are.”