The prospect of Ince being banned from both matches increased yesterday when it was revealed that Pierluigi Collina, the referee who dismissed him during England's defeat by Sweden, has included details of the player's obscene response in his report to Uefa, the game's European governing body. Ince, said a Uefa official endearingly, "used bad words".
Ince is automatically suspended for the first match, against Bulgaria at Wembley on 10 October, but will not now discover if he is eligible for the second, in Luxembourg four days later, until Uefa's disciplinary committee meets on 8 October. By then Ince would already be at England's Bisham Abbey training camp, preparing for the match.
After the furore over his and Tony Adams' books Hoddle, due to announce his squad on 1 October, does not want another international to be overshadowed by extraneous matters. The Football Association is thus pressing Uefa for an earlier resolution. Should the European association stick by procedure there is another avenue for the FA: banning Ince. This would also have the effect of showing a moral lead, albeit a belated one.
Given that Ince followed his foul on Henrik Larsson, for which he received a second yellow card, by pulling the player's dreadlocks, then swore at Collina and made a two-fingered gesture to the crowd after being dismissed, it is likely that Uefa will penalise him. It thus seems short-sighted of England not to pre-empt the issue, especially as Luxembourg are not the most demanding of opponents.
Hoddle has seen a video of the incident but is believed to find it inconclusive. It is understood he will consult with Graham Kelly, the FA's chief executive, before taking any action. Ince, the sixth player to be dismissed while playing for England, has insisted he is innocent.
"People have been trying to make something out of it," he said. "I wasn't doing anything to the crowd and I don't care a monkey's what it looked like on TV. I know what I did and didn't do."
Hoddle, meanwhile, has sounded a conciliatory note towards Chris Sutton. The national coach has hinted that the Blackburn striker can force his way back into the England squad - by begging for forgiveness for turning his back on the England B team earlier this year. Hoddle had ruled out picking him again, and in his World Cup diary, he wrote: "One person who wouldn't be involved, nor at any time while I remain national coach, was Chris Sutton."
But now Hoddle has offered to forgive the wayward striker - just as long as he says sorry. In a magazine interview, Hoddle says: "If someone comes to you and says `I don't want to play for my country', he's made his situation clear."
But, asked what his reaction would be if Sutton apologised, Hoddle indicated he would be prepared to reinstate him. He said: "That's when forgiveness can come in. But that hasn't arrived."
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