Football: International door still open for Gascoigne

GLENN HODDLE yesterday offered Paul Gascoigne an extra incentive to overcome his drink problem by telling him that playing for England was still a possibility.

Hoddle left Gascoigne out of his squad for the World Cup finals in France, telling the player of the decision in an emotional meeting at La Manga, but the England coach has welcomed the Middlesbrough midfielder's admission that he has an alcohol problem and had admitted himself to a clinic to undergo the difficult and lengthy process of drying out.

"A lot of people have tried to help Paul Gascoigne in the past but this is the first step in him trying to address the situation himself. I think that's a good and positive sign for him," Hoddle said at a news conference yesterday.

"Until he made that step then realistically I always thought it was going to be difficult for the lad to overcome his problems.

"As regards playing for England again, the door has always been left open for Paul Gascoigne if he can regain his top form. Because of the circumstances in which he has found himself he has been making that very difficult to actually achieve."

But the England coach thought that there was now the prospect of things changing. "If he can address his problem he's going to give himself a chance of getting back to his very best form," he said.

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