Football: Hoddle takes good with the bad over injuries

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The Independent Online
A split developed among England's injured yesterday which both delighted and disappointed Glenn Hoddle. Alan Shearer, Paul Gascoigne and David Seaman all proved their fitness for tomorrow's World Cup game with Italy but major doubts continue to concern Tony Adams and Paul Ince.

The latter pair, together with Newcastle's Robert Lee, were unable to take part in yesterday's training session at Bisham Abbey and must show significant progress to be available for the Wembley match.

"Both Adams and Ince would only be 50-50 at this stage," declared the England coach with the unperturbed air of one who knows the bad news could have been a lot, lot worse.

"Tony is still feeling his ankle and had to work on his own. Paul and Robert did a little but we were not able to bring them fully into the main group.

"I will need to have some idea of the shape of my side after tomorrow afternoon's session. Tony will be given until late on Tuesday to prove himself."

If either player is to sit out the qualifying tie between the Group Two heavyweights with 100 per cent records, England's cause would be weakened. Under Arsene Wenger's influence at Arsenal Adams has added new qualities to his renowned defensive strength while Ince, a mainstay of Internazionale's midfield, has a knowledge of how to cope with the Italian threat.

The happier side of the coin showed Shearer, Seaman and Gascoigne returning to the fold after their various injuries. Hoddle pronounced himself positive and optimistic about all three with the caveat that Shearer's problem in his lower back could yet provoke a reaction.

"You can only go into a game risking one of two," Hoddle added. "Inevitably there will be players who are going to be less than 100 per cent and that's when I have to look at all the elements and angles and see what's worth it for such a big game."

Gascoigne's recovery was the major surprise. "When his ankle was in plaster last weekend not many would have given him a chance of being available. A fit Paul Gascoigne is obviously a major bonus when others are struggling.

"We have followed him closely since the last game in Georgia and his form has been good. "What's more he has not been in so much trouble with referees. He will always be the cheeky chappie but he's determined to change the other things."

The Italy coach, Cesare Maldini, is considering employing the Real Madrid defender Christian Panucci as a sweeper in an attempt to shackle Shearer. Panucci played sweeper in the first half when the probables beat the possibles 4-1 in a training match in Florence yesterday.

"He's one of the real possibilities but it's best not to make too many changes," Maldini said before the team left for England. Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo is expected to play alongside Dino Baggio and Demetrio Albertini in the Italian midfield, while his club-mate Gianfranco Zola should link up with Lazio striker Pierluigi Casiraghi in attack. Maldini wants his strikers to interchange and give his midfield more options.

However, Maldini also said he was pleased with the form of Middlesbrough striker Fabrizio Ravanelli and fellow forward Enrico Chiesa, who look sure to be on the bench.

The Football Association are investigating allegations of a tickets scandal 48 hours before England's World Cup qualifier against Italy at Wembley. It is believed that as many as 1,000 tickets are being sold on the black market at 10 times their market value.