Football: Gazza's injury fears allayed

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THE sighs of relief could be heard all the way from Lazio to Lancaster Gate yesterday when, far from being crocked again, Paul Gascoigne was able to train normally in Rome.

Fears that a new injury to the knee which kept him out of action for 16 months might jeopardise his comeback proved groundless, and Dino Zoff, the Lazio coach, said he thought Gazza would start the Serie A match at home to Parma on Sunday.

The knock which brought a premature end to Gascoigne's debut, against Genoa at the weekend, proved to be no more serious than a 'dead' leg - the original diagnosis to that effect confirmed by a specialist yesterday.

Zoff, who said 'I never thought the accident was at all serious', added that he was 'very pleased' with his record signing's performance during a 45-minute introduction to Italian football, and thought he might 'last the full 90' against Parma.

Graham Taylor scrapped plans to travel to Italy last Sunday, preferring to go to Sheffield Wednesday and mend his fractured relationship with Chris Waddle, but the England manager said last night that he would definitely be in Rome's Olympic stadium this time to check on the form and fitness of one of his few potential matchwinners.

'It's a relief to hear that Paul is training OK,' Taylor said. 'If he plays on Sunday, I will be there to watch him.' Was he planning to recall Gascoigne at home to Norway on 14 October, in the first of the World Cup qualifiers? 'It's too early for me to say. To state that he would play then would be as ridiculous as the suggestion I read somewhere that I wouldn't consider him before the San Marino game, next February.'

With Norway's visit just two weeks away, and his squad due to be announced on Thursday, Taylor has been busily renewing old acquaintances, however reluctantly brought to mind. Apart from promising Gazza a place in his latest selection, as an observer or otherwise, he has also held what are traditionally called 'clear the air' talks with Waddle and Peter Beardsley - both prematurely discarded and still blessed with a technique England can ill afford to do without.

West Ham are expected to move for the pounds 750,000-rated Everton winger Peter Beagrie. The England B international has turned down a move to Southampton.

Aidan McCaffery became the first managerial casualty of the season yesterday when he was sacked by Carlisle less than a week after the club's best result for five years, a 2-2 home draw with Norwich in the Coca-Cola Cup. But, in the League, Carlisle have claimed only one point from 15.