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Football: Petrie plays down Ulises walk-out talk.

Byline: ROBERT MARTIN

HIBS managing director Rod Petrie last night poured cold water on claims from club record signing Ulises de la Cruz that he wants to leave Easter Road.

Ecuador star de la Cruz, as Mirror Sport revealed yesterday, was reported to have told Italian papers he didn't want to return to Edinburgh after the World Cup.

Hibs boss Bobby Williamson refused to comment on his player's comments yesterday, but Petrie insisted he was not losing sleep on the matter, firmly believing that de la Cruz's real comments had been misinterpreted.

Petrie said: "I think something has been lost in the translation.

"As far as we are concerned, Ulises has enjoyed his time here and we have put a lot of effort into helping him have a settled life.

"So I think his comments may have been somewhat different to what has been reported.

Attention

"He is the focus of a lot of attention in the Italian papers because he is one of Ecuador's top players, and I think he was just being polite.

"We are thousands of miles away, so we don't know the ins and outs of the story. But I have to say that we are quite relaxed about the situation."

Petrie also revealed the Easter Road club were not overly concerned with speculation linking starlet Garry O'Connor with a move to Rangers.

O'Connor's stunning form towards the end of last season saw scouts from almost every Premiership club flocking to see the 19-year-old striker.

And Ibrox boss Alex McLeish is also well aware of O'Connor's talents having worked with the player during his time as Hibs boss.

But Petrie revealed Hibs had received no bids for the new Scotland cap, and there was no rush to let him go.

He said: "It is not for us to get sucked into speculation. Ulises and Garry are players who have both done well and that obviously attracts attention."

Hibs coach Donald Park, meanwhile, has left the Easter Road club by mutual consent.

Park was in charge of the Easter Road side for one match on a caretaker basis when McLeish quit to take charge of Rangers.

However, he has now opted to leave the club and hopes to carve out a career at another club.

Park said: "I'm parting on good terms and wish the club every success in the season ahead."

CAPTION(S):

NO WORRY: Petrie believes de la Cruz was misquoted
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2002
Words:406
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