Football: Taylor moves swiftly to reassure errant Gascoigne

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The Independent Online
GRAHAM TAYLOR, the England manager, was quick to show sympathy for Paul Gascoigne yesterday and reassure the errant Lazio midfield player that his first sending-off in Italian football will not damage his international career.

Taylor was among spectators in Genoa who saw Gascoigne sent off following a tangle with Mario Bortolazzi 20 minutes from the end of a game Lazio won 3-2. Afterwards he laid most of the blame on Gascoigne's opponent and saluted his efforts to regain full fitness after his lack of conditioning became apparent in last month's World Cup tie with San Marino.

'I have some sympathy for Paul,' Taylor said. 'I'm not saying the referee was wrong but if the Italian had stayed upright the decision could easily have been reversed. I'm glad I was able to see for myself what happened. The sending-off will have no implications on Paul's England future.'

Gascoigne's problems in adapting to his new surroundings and a stricter regime were highlighted by the England management after the San Marino game. Taylor said then the player was not the same as the one who had demoralised Turkey and illuminated the Wembley stage in November. Gascoigne was not happy with his level of fitness and consequently not happy with himself.

However, Taylor said yesterday: 'It is clear Paul has worked on his fitness since Wembley and he seemed all the better for it. Paul won Lazio's penalty, he was improving and beginning to dominate the game when he was sent off. I was impressed by his fitness and form on a heavy pitch.'

Gascoigne should know tomorrow whether the dismissal has earned him a one or two-match suspension.

West Ham have revealed an alarming lack of interest in their controversial bond scheme which sparked demonstrations by supporters and led to a boycott of some games. Only 572 have been sold compared with the target figure of 19,000.

In financial terms it means pounds 500,000 has been raised compared with a hoped-for pounds 10m. The cost of setting up the scheme, pounds 1.4m, contributed to a loss last season of pounds 2m.

However the club's managing director, Peter Storrie, said that because of savings they no longer need to reach the 19,000 figure. 'We have substantially reduced the costs of the development, by pounds 6m or pounds 7m from pounds 15.5m,' he said. 'In addition the figures published only take into account the bonds purchased in full - and not those being bought by loan schemes. There are a lot more of those.

'You could not say the scheme has been a success, the sales levels would not support that. But once the North and South Bank stands are completed we are confident things will improve. When people see the quality of the developments we think they will get involved.'

Bobby Moore's No 6 shirt will be missing when West Ham take on Wolves in Saturday's First Division game at Upton Park. But the Football League is still waiting to hear whether the tribute will be extended for the rest of the season or beyond.

Richard Gough (hamstring) and Gary Stevens (foot) are out of Rangers' European Cup match with Club Bruges tomorrow.

Nottingham Forest's seven-man board of directors last night won approval from shareholders to defeat a resolution calling for the formation of a four-man liaison committee to seek out more information about the running of the club. The Forest manager, Brian Clough, who escaped criticism at the 80-minute meeting, revealed afterwards that he was expecting to complete the signing of a new player today.