Football: Hoddle reaction heartens Gazza

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The Independent Online
PAUL GASCOIGNE has admitted he has been "overwhelmed" by the support he has received this week in the wake of Glenn Hoddle's World Cup revelations.

Gascoigne has come under fire in the England coach's new book From Glenn Hoddle: The 1998 World Cup Story for his response to his exclusion from England's World Cup squad.

Hoddle has been strongly criticised from many quarters for revealing the private behaviour of one of his squad and Mel Stein, Gascoigne's agent, said: "Paul has been absolutely overwhelmed by the support he has received since Hoddle went public. He has been very touched and encouraged by the way people have so roundly condemned the England coach and sympathised with him.

"A lot of people have said Hoddle should apologise to Paul, but it is not for us to comment on that. If Hoddle thinks that what he has done is correct, then it is not for us to tell him to apologise."

The Football Association director of public affairs, David Davies, has defended his role in the writing of Hoddle's book.

Davies claimed that he was asked by Hoddle to become involved to prevent allegations of favouritism among journalists - but he added that only Hoddle himself could say why the book was written at all.

"Ultimately, that is clearly a question you must put to Glenn Hoddle," Davies said. "The fact that Glenn was working on this book with has been public knowledge for some considerable time. It was to get over the worry of one particular journalist getting special treatment in all this, that Glenn asked me to do the book."

Chelsea's player-manager, Gianluca Vialli, has insisted that he will not force any player to stay at Stamford Bridge this season if they become frustrated by their lack of first-team chances - and he admitted that Frank Sinclair's pounds 2m move to Leicester this week may not be the last departure from the club in the foreseeable future.

"I respect the players' decisions all of the time. I'm not going to force anybody to stay if they are unhappy. If I did, I would be a selfish manager. We might have other departures, it depends on the players."

The Chinese international defenders Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai became the first players from their country to sign for an English club when they joined Crystal Palace yesterday.

Fan Zhiyi was signed from Shanghai Shenhua on a four-year deal and Sun Jihai, from Dalian, has joined on a two-year deal. The combined fee for the pair is about pounds 1m.

Arsenal's Dutch World Cup winger Marc Overmars has signed a two-year extension to his original four-year contract, while Aston Villa's midfielder Lee Hendrie has signed a new five year contract.

The Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie has been forced to withdraw from the Northern Ireland squad for Wednesday's friendly against Malta in Belfast because of an ankle injury. A proposed pounds 3.5m move to Middlesbrough broke down during the summer, when he failed a medical because of the problem with his ankle. His replacement in the squad will be named on Monday.