Football: Hoddle urged to recall Gazza

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The Independent Online
THE GROWING campaign for the restoration of Paul Gascoigne to the England midfield gained the support yesterday of the internationals Gareth Southgate and Teddy Sheringham. However, other leading figures in the game - such as his club manager, Bryan Robson - were urging the national coach Glenn Hoddle not to recall the troubled player.

Robson, the Middlesbrough manager and former England captain, has said Hoddle should leave Gascoigne out of his squad to face the Czech Republic in a Wembley friendly later this month. He does not want him to have to handle the added pressures of an international recall at a time when he is trying to beat an alcohol addiction.

However, Sheringham believes Gascoigne is still good enough to play for England. "There is most definitely a place in the squad for Gazza," said the Manchester United striker, speaking on the BBC1 programme, Onside. "When you can do things with a football that make the rest of the squad sit up and say `that was something special' there has got to be a place for him in the England squad - and even the team in my eyes. I think he is exceptional."

Sheringham's view was echoed on the same programme by the Aston Villa capotain, Southgate. "I think it is great he [Gascoigne] has taken the steps he has to get himself right," Southgate said. "You miss a character like him around the place and you miss a player of his quality.

"That type of player doesn't come along very often, certainly not in this country. That ability to open up defences is something which perhaps we haven't quite got anywhere else."

Gary Mabbutt, Gascoigne's former Tottenham team-mate, also believes Gascoigne will be ready to play for his country if picked by Hoddle this month. "I know Paul, and he would say if he's selected he'll be ready at any stage," Mabbutt said. "Certainly, nothing would give Paul greater pleasure than performing well enough for Middlesbrough to get back into the England team, whether that is now or in a few months.

"Paul would like to show he is still worthy of a place and prove to people that it was wrong for him to be left out of the World Cup squad. There are a lot of things he would like to prove."

Mabbutt is pleased his good friend is seeking help for his off-the- field problems and is sure it will lead to a full recovery and reinstatement in the England team. He said: "Paul seems to be doing well, and I am delighted with the way things are going for him at the moment. Hopefully we are beginning to see that because he is getting help with his problems there is a benefit on the football field."

However, Gascoigne's former England and Rangers team-mate, Trevor Steven, believes it is still too soon for Gascoigne to resume his international career.

Steven is adamant Gascoigne is still good enough to play for his country but feels England should wait a while longer for the Boro midfielder. The recovery of his form at club level does not indicate that he is ready to handle the pressures of international football.

"England are struggling for creativity in midfield, and Paul scored a great goal at the weekend which showed that he has still got what it takes," he said. "Knowing Paul, if he was chosen I believe he could still do it, but I don't think it would be right to put Paul in there just yet."