Football: Gascoigne blow for England

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The Independent Online
GRAHAM TAYLOR'S hopes of taking a squad approaching full strength on England's trip to the United States next month received a setback yesterday when Lazio told him that Paul Gascoigne would instead be playing for them across the border in Canada.

As part of a familiarisation exercise for the World Cup, England are to play the US, Germany and Brazil in a four-team tournament. The organisers, like the England manager, are keen to have Gascoigne, whose flamboyant style is regarded as a potential marketing aid for next year's finals, but Lazio are standing firm.

'Our position is that he must stay with us,' a club spokesman said. 'Once the league season is over we plan one or two games in Canada. If these matches fall through then it could be that he could join the England team.' Meanwhile, the carbon-fibre mask Gascoigne wore to protect a facial injury in Sunday's defeat of Ancona has been stolen from Lazio's training camp.

Gascoigne will play against Brescia on Sunday before joining England's preparations for the potentially crucial World Cup qualifying matches away to Poland on 29 May and Norway on 2 June. The squad were to gather tomorrow, but the involvement of eight players - six from Arsenal, two from Sheffield Wednesday - in the FA Cup final replay has prompted Taylor to reschedule.

They will now meet on Friday, with those playing at Wembley being allowed to report the following day and the first training session being held on Sunday.

Another of Taylor's automatic selections, David Platt, looks certain to be kicking his heels as Juventus attempt to recapture the Uefa Cup at Borussia Dortmund's expense in Turin tonight. The Juve coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, is set to retain Andreas Moller, Jurgen Kohler and Julio Cesar as his foreign trio as his team defend a 3-1 first-leg lead.

Arsenal have invested pounds 2.5m in two giant video screens, to be situated in opposite corners of the ground. The club plan a pre-match programme, and hope to show away matches when tickets for Arsenal fans are scarce. A plan to show action replays, and highlights at half and full-time, has been vetoed by the Football Association and Premier League, however, as Uefa feel that replays of live action might incite crowd trouble.

Bobby Ferguson, the former Ipswich manager, has resigned as Sunderland coach. His successor is expected to be Ian Atkins, who was dismissed by Cambridge last week.

In the second leg of tonight's Football League play-off semi-finals, Leicester may switch their top scorer Steve Walsh back to central defence as they take a 1-0 lead to Portsmouth. Mark Chamberlain (knee ligaments) faces a fitness test for Pompey, who are already without the suspended Paul Walsh.

Glenn Hoddle may miss Swindon Town's First Division play-off semi- final tonight. The player-manager aggravated a groin strain in Sunday's 3-1 win over Tranmere in the first leg.

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