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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Loko Keeper Upset by Romantsev Accusations

Lokomotiv Moscow goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov has hit back at Russia coach Oleg Romantsev after being accused of refusing to play for the national team.

"I know from reading newspapers that Oleg Romantsev said 'Ovchinnikov doesn't want to play for the national team,'" Ovchinnikov was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Sport-Express newspaper.

"Quite frankly, his words were news to me."

Asked Friday if he planned to recall Ovchinnikov to the national team, Romantsev told media that he saw no role for the former Russian international in his squad.

"No, it's out of the question," said Romantsev, who also coaches Spartak Moscow, the Russian champion and Lokomotiv's Moscow neighbor.

"It's an honor to play for the national team for any player, but apparently not for Ovchinnikov. So far he only gives interviews, telling everyone what a great goalkeeper he is."

But 31-year-old Ovchinnikov, who last played for Russia almost three years ago, sees things differently.

"In any of my interviews, I have never said that I would refuse to play for the national team," he said, while suggesting that Romantsev has ignored him for personal reasons.

"Could there be any other reason?" Ovchinnikov asked.

Romantsev's remarks also upset Lokomotiv coach Yury Syomin.

"Oleg Romantsev alleges that Ovchinnikov refuses to play for the Russian national team. This is simply not true," Syomin told media at the weekend.

"I know for a fact that Ovchinnikov specifically returned to Russia this season to have a chance to play in the World Cup."

Ovchinnikov, who played for Lokomotiv from 1991 to 1997 before being sold to Portugal's Benfica, rejoined his old club on loan from Porto in January.

Ovchinnikov said he has not given up hope of playing in the World Cup finals but would not ask Romantsev himself.

"If a coach wants to see a certain player in his team, he would send him an official invitation ... this is an accepted practice worldwide, not the other way around," the keeper said.

"But nevertheless, I'm prepared to wait until the very end."

The World Cup finals, in South Korea and Japan, begin on May 31, with Russia drawn alongside Japan, Belgium and Tunisia in Group H.

It is not the first time Romantsev has come under fire for his national team selection.

Last month, Russian international Rolan Gusev claimed he was dropped from the national team because he chose to move to CSKA Moscow from Dynamo instead of joining Spartak.

"Ever since I decided against joining Spartak, I didn't rule out such an action," the CSKA winger said.