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FOOTBALL: MARK HATELEY dumped by Ross County.

MARK HATELEY was last night dumped by Ross County - just two games into his much-vaunted Scottish playing comeback.

The 37-year-old former Rangers, AC Milan and England striker was expected to take his first bow before the County fans at Victoria Park tonight in the Challenge Cup against Alloa.

But after his arrival brought two consecutive away defeats, County manager Neale Cooper - a close friend of Hateley's - decided to wield the axe.

Last night Cooper said: "I made the decision on Sunday night and spoke to Mark before holding a meeting with the players this morning.

"I've made the decision myself and have the backing of the board and the players. If anything, Mark's presence was having a negative effect on us and a positive one on the opposition.

"This move was not a financial stunt aimed at pulling in big crowds. Both games Mark took part in were played away from home and I don't know what it was, but I had a gut instinct that it was not going to work.

"I decided to nip it in the bud and concentrate on getting the best out of the players we already have here.

"Mark is bitterly disappointed and it was hard to tell a friend he's no longer needed - but that's management.

"He was in great shape physically, but there is a world of difference between that and full-match fitness.

"It was a decision I had to make."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Fraser, Alasdair
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 14, 1999
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