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England 'closer together' following claims against Sampson

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England striker Jodie Taylor says she was shocked by the bullying allegations against manager Mark Sampson but added the squad are now closer together.

Sampson is accused of discrimination by Chelsea forward Eniola Aluko but has been cleared of wrongdoing by two investigations and denies the allegations.

Taylor was given her first cap by Sampson in 2014 at the age of 28.

“This is the most together team I’ve been involved in,” Taylor said.

“When I saw the allegations I was shocked, it’s not something I have experienced at all. Mark Sampson has been fantastic for my career,” she told BBC Sport.

“He gave me the chance initially and he has improved me as both a footballer and as a person.”

The Football Association could re-open their inquiry into Sampson after it was alleged he asked mixed race England midfielder Drew Spence whether she had been arrested during a tournament in 2015.

The claim was first made by Aluko but Spence has now submitted written evidence to support it. The FA has passed this on to barrister Katherine Newton.

“This week has been a bit rough if I’m completely honest. It is not just affecting Mark and the FA, but also us and our families,” added Taylor.

“There has been a lot of attention around the team and it’s been a difficult time.

“But we know the bigger picture and we are together as a team. The big thing for us is showing it on the pitch tomorrow night.”

England moving in right direction – Sampson

Jodie Taylor

England play Russia in the first of their World Cup qualifiers at Prenton Park on Tuesday, their first game since losing 3-0 to the Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2017.

But Taylor, who was top scorer in the tournament, says the squad have “put the Euros behind them”.

“We were devastated that we didn’t make it the whole way. We genuinely believed as a squad we would.

“We are getting over it now and are focused on tomorrow. The squad are all in high spirits and we just can’t wait to get out there.”

England start their campaign against a team ranked 25th in the world before going on to face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kazakhstan and Wales.

“The Euros were a learning experience and as tough as that semi-final defeat was, there were some wonderful memories. We’re looking to put things in place now to be a better team,” added England manager Sampson.

“We have to be clear we are moving in the right direction.

“On paper Russia are the most difficult challenge for us. We’ve looked at them in depth and we will have to be at our best on Tuesday to get a result.”

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