Football: Hoddle keeps options open on taking Gascoigne to Georgia

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The Independent Online
Glenn Hoddle will decided next week whether to name Paul Gascoigne in the squad for England's World Cup qualifying match in Georgia next month.

The 29-year-old Gascoigne's place in the England coach's thinking for the Group Two game in Tbilisi on 9 November was put in doubt after last week's revelations about his continued marital problems. He admitted having taken "domestic problems" into Rangers' 4-1 Champions' League defeat in Amsterdam last Wednesday, when he was sent off for kicking out at Winston Bogarde.

In a statement yesterday, the Football Association said Hoddle would be talking again with Gascoigne and his manager at Rangers, Walter Smith, before Thursday, when he will announce his squad for the game in Tbilisi. The Football Association said yesterday: "As far as any decisions on the England team are concerned they will be taken next week."

England will have to take on the Georgians, who were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Italy in Perugia earlier this month, without Alan Shearer, who had a groin operation yesterday, and Hoddle has other worries. While exposing Gascoigne to the international spotlight could put him under strain, Hoddle knows that another of his attackers, Nick Barmby, is also unsettled.

Middlesbrough confirmed yesterday they are ready to let Barmby go if the right deal could be arranged. Barmby joined Boro from Tottenham for pounds 5.25m 14 months ago.

Middlesbrough's manager, Bryan Robson, said he had decided the balance of his team was not right with Barmby, Boro's leading scorer last season, and the Brazilian international Juninho having similar roles. "I thought I could play the two behind the striker but it has not worked out. We have been overpowered too many times in too many games," he said. He will also listen to offers for the Norwegian striker Jan Age Fjortoft.

Hoddle's squad choices are complicated, but his Welsh counterpart, Bobby Gould, obviously does not have a problem with a player who makes some others wary. He has recalled Vinnie Jones for Wales' World Cup Group Seven game against the Netherlands in Eindhoven on 9 November.

Gould has turned to Wimbledon's combative midfielder because Wales ran out of steam when the Dutch won 3-1 in Cardiff earlier this month. "We'll need experienced players [in Eindhoven]," Gould said. "Vinnie is a competitor and when a player is playing well in a team that's playing well, you have to look at him."

Wales' top-scorer, Ian Rush, has been left out again despite Mark Hughes' suspension, but Gould has given the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, Mark Crossley, hope of an international career by inviting him to travel with the squad. Crossley is eligible to play for Wales as his grandfather came from Wrexham.

Bolton's in-form striker Nathan Blake, who has earned a call-up, and Sheffield United's Gareth Taylor provide alternatives, while the loss of Hughes is offset by the return from suspension of Ryan Giggs.

WALES SQUAD (World Cup Group Seven v Netherlands, Eindhoven, 9 November): Southall (Everton), Marriott (Wrexham); Hall (Sunderland), Melville (Sunderland), Neilson (Southampton), Bowen (West Ham), Symons (Manchester City), Pembridge (Sheffield Wed), Horne (Birmingham), Robinson (Charlton), Speed (Everton), V Jones (Wimbledon), Legg (Birmingham), Giggs (Manchester Utd), Saunders (Nottingham Forest), Hartson (Arsenal), Blake (Bolton), Taylor (Sheffield Utd). Stand-by players: Jenkins (Huddersfield), Young (Wolves), Page (Watford), Browning (Bristol Rovers), Savage (Crewe), Davies (Manchester Utd), L Jones (Liverpool), Bowen (Birmingham). Also travelling: Crossley (Nottingham Forest).

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