Russia captain Artem Dzyuba denies coach claim he asked not to be selected amid Ukraine conflict

Artem Dzyuba, one of Russia's all-time leading goalscorers, denied on Tuesday that he had asked the team coach not to pick him for the national side because of the conflict in Ukraine.

"I didn't not join the Russian national team because of political issues. It's about family circumstances, but I don't want to go into details," he was quoted as telling the Sport-Express news outlet.

"It seems to me that there was a misunderstanding, [coach] Valery Georgievich [Karpin] misunderstood me, or his words were misinterpreted."

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Karpin said he had spoken to the 33-year-old Zenit St Petersburg striker at the weekend about selection for a training camp in Moscow.

Russia has been suspended from international football by UEFA and FIFA over events in Ukraine and kicked out of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

"He assured me ... he really wants to play for the national team," Karpin was quoted as saying, in an interview published on the website of the Russian Football Union.

"But now, due to the difficult situation in Ukraine, where he has many relatives, he apologised and asked, for family reasons, not to be called up to this camp," Karpin added.

Dzyuba was a late call-up to the squad when Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018 and became a talismanic figure during the team's surprise run to the quarterfinals.

He has since captained the national side and equalled Aleksandr Kerzhakov as Russia's record goalscorer, but since Karpin was appointed last July, he has largely fallen out of favour.

He took to Instagram this month to hit back at Ukrainian footballers who criticised him and other Russian players for remaining silent over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In that post, Dzyuba said he was against discrimination on the basis of nationality, and that he could not understand why Russian athletes were being made to suffer.