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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Sissoko gets reprieve
Lamine Sissoko
He's young and he made a mistake
Valencia manager Claudio Ranieri
Mali midfielder Lamine Sissoko has been pardoned by Spanish club Valencia after returning late from international duty.

Sissoko had been due to return to the club on Tuesday after playing for Mali in a World Cup qualifier against Senegal at the weekend.

But he justified his late arrival with the excuse that he had also played in a friendly against Kenya, which had never taken place.

Manager Claudio Ranieri said Sissoko had to stay back at home after his father was admitted to hospital.

"You have to understand the lad," Ranieri told a news conference on Friday.

"He's young and he made a mistake. He wasn't trying to be clever."

The Italian coach included the player in his squad for Saturday's match at Athletic Bilbao.

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