England’s Mark Sampson: There is no rift with defender Lucy Bronze


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Mark Sampson said he had ‘a fantastic working relationship’ with his players.
England Women manager Mark Sampson has dismissed 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 on Tuesday.

But pictures show the defender rejected Sampson’s attempted encouragement, shrugging him off as she stood up.

The incident happened at a time when Sampson is under increasing scrutiny, but he rejected suggestions he and Lyon player Bronze, who has 48 caps, had a problem.

“No, absolutely not,” he said. “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. 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, he said his “conscience is clear” and expressed his desire to move on.

The England squad are preparing for next Tuesday’s opening World Cup qualifier against Russia at Tranmere, and Sampson 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.”

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