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Aluko still in England contention - Marley

England
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 By PA Sport

Nobbs defends England women's celebration with coach Mark Sampson

England players celebrate the opening goal with under-fire boss Mark Sampson.

Jordan Nobbs has defended the England women's team's right to celebrate with manager Mark Sampson during their six-goal thrashing of Russia.

The Lionesses faced heavy criticism from former teammates Eni Aluko and Lianne Sanderson for rushing toward Sampson -- who has since been sacked -- when Nikita Parris opened the scoring at Prenton Park on Tuesday.

The 11th-minute strike from Parris set England on course for a 6-0 win in their opening World Cup qualifying match.

But Aluko felt the message sent out by the exuberance showed "a level of disrespect that represents division and selfish action" given that it followed her accusations of racism, harassment and bullying against Sampson.

Sampson was cleared twice, by a Football Association review and an independent investigation, and firmly denies any wrongdoing but was then sacked over "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" relating to his time in charge at Bristol Academy.

Nobbs, who scored the third goal, said before the news of the sacking: "It has been a tough time for all of us, but what we've been doing over the last few years since Mark's been with the squad is developing a together team and a hard-working team.

"Getting to two semifinals of major tournaments, it doesn't just come out of the blue."

England are coming off a semifinal showing at Euro 2017, having finished third at the 2015 World Cup, and Nobbs feels England should be able to focus on their on-pitch performance.

"We can't comment on the unknown but as a team, and personally as a player, Mark has been an incredible manager and person to me, so I can only talk on my experience," she said.

Sanderson, who is backing her fellow former England striker Aluko, was scathing of England's celebration with Sampson and wrote on Twitter: "I'm actually lost for words and feel physically sickened by all of this. They successfully manipulated the players into a them against us."

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