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By ESPN Staff

Sporting coach Sergio denies rift

Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Sergio has played down suggestions of a bust-up with Simon Vukcevic ahead of Thursday night's Europa League tie against Rangers.

Reports claim an argument broke out between the pair when the talented attacking midfielder was taken off at half-time against Olhanense at the weekend.

The Portuguese side are not short of problems heading into the Ibrox clash, with results on the pitch lacking and speculation about problems behind the scenes.

But Sergio, who took over the helm last summer, was keen to give the impression that there was no problem between himself and one of his most influential players.

He said: "We don't argue, we don't have any discussion in the locker room. It was just that the player, which was a surprise to me, showed that he wasn't able to do the second half. That's all it was and it surprised me that he wasn't okay to play the second half. But there was no problem with Vukcevic.''

Sporting conspired to squander a two-goal lead in that game, with the 2-2 draw leaving them a staggering 23 points adrift of Portuguese Liga leaders Porto.

But captain Daniel Carrico refused to dwell on the result, choosing instead to focus on a match against Rangers which could help them maintain a decent run in Europe at least.

"What happened in Olhanense is in the past,'' he said. "It was a collective mistake from the team but what happened has happened and we have to look forward as a team and concentrate on this game.

"A strong element of the team is that we are strong psychologically and we will look forward now. Sporting is a big club and you need to have pressure. Everyone wants to win and mentally we have to be strong in these situations.''

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