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Football: ROVER FLOW - Veteran Rankine has no regrets.

Byline: NICK HILTON

MARK RANK-INE'S departure from Prenton Park served as a reminder that there is little room for sentiment in football.

The 36-year-old midfielder agreed to terminate his contract with Tranmere a few weeks early after dropping out of the first-team picture during the second half of the season.

The prospect of a farewell appearance against his hometown club Don-caster in the final game of the League One campaign wasn't enough to hold Rankine.

The die was cast before a run-in of injuries and suspensions to other mid-field players left Tranmere short of experience in the increasingly fraught battle against relegation.

Rankine said: "It was unfortunate Tranmere had a couple of red cards in midfield but the decision to go was already taken. That is just the way it works sometimes.

"I told Brian Little I really enjoyed my time at Tranmere and I hope they get that one more victory to stay up."

Rankine made a total of 737 career appearances for Doncaster, caster, Wolves, Preston, Sheffield United and Tranmere.

He was a key player in the Tranmere side that finished third in League One last season and made the last of his 73 Rovers appearances against Old-ham in February.

Manager Brian Little said: "Mark lost that little extra yard he needs to be on the button. He had also found it more difficult to recover after games.

"But he had a fantastic season with us last year and we wish him well in the future."

Rankine had signalled his intention to hang up his boots at the end of the season but is leaving his options open for the time being.

He said: "There is interest from one or two clubs but I'm not going to be greedy because I have had 20 years in the game.

"I'll decide in a few weeks' time."

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DEPARTED: Mark Rankine has quit Prenton Park
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 29, 2006
Words:316
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