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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
No Ulises fears for Hibs
Ulises de la Cruz
Italy fear the speed of Hibs' Ulises de la Cruz
Hibernian have dismissed comments attributed to Ecuador World Cup wing-back Ulises de la Cruz that he wants away from Easter Road.

And they insist that there has been no bid from Rangers or any other club for new Scotland international Garry O'Connor.

De La Cruz was widely quoted as saying that he will be using his appearances in Korea and Japan as a way of engineering a move to Italy or Spain.

But the Scottish Premier League club insist that the 27-year-old is happy in Edinburgh.

Open Quote
The sentiment of what he was saying wasn't picked up properly
Close Quote
Hibernian spokesman
He had previously said that he had been disappointed by the departure to Rangers of manager Alex McLeish.

McLeish had made De la Cruz the club's record signing for 750,000 from Deportivo Universitaria at the start of last season.

But the player has now been quoted as saying: "I have three years left on my contract in Edinburgh, but who would want to stay there?"

Hibs believe that his comments are a result of a mix-up in translation and that there is no reason to fear him quitting the Edinburgh club.

Club spokesman David Forsyth said: "The point the club wants to make is that Ulises is a Spanish-speaking Ecuadorian who has been interviewed by an Italian journalist while in Japan.

"It is our belief that the sentiment of what he was saying wasn't picked up properly.

"He may have spoken of the benefits of playing in Italy and Spain, but any ambitious player would like to go and play in these leagues.

"He says he is happy in Edinburgh and we have no reason not to believe him."

Garry O'Connor celebrates another goal for Hibs
Garry O'Connor is attracting interest
Italy fear the speed of De la Cruz for their World Cup opener, coach Giovanni Trapattoni indicating that he could shape his side to nullify the threat.

Striker Francesco Totti admitted: "We have watched him on video and he is the one who makes a difference to the team."

Meanwhile, O'Connor was linked with a move from Rangers, the Daily Record claiming that the Glasgow club were prepared to bid 2m in a four-way tug-of-war with Aston Villa, Leeds United and Southampton.

The 19-year-old striker has been in impressive form after breaking into the Hibs first team at the end of the season and was called up to the Scotland national side.

"It's the time of year when there is a lot of speculation about players," said Forsyth.

"But the basic fact is that there has been no bid made for Garry O'Connor at all."

  • Hibernian coach Donald Park, who had become assistant during the short reign of Franck Sauzee, has left the club "by mutual consent".

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