Football: Venables' fear for injured Gascoigne

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PAUL GASCOIGNE'S place in Terry Venables first England team was placed in doubt here last night when the Lazio midfield player was forced to leave a brutal Rome derby with rib and wrist injuries midway through the first half.

Gascoigne returned to the field at the end of the game as the Lazio hordes celebrated their first derby win in five years, receiving the biggest cheer of a vibrant occasion, and will join the England squad today with his selection still a possibility.

'I had to go off because whenever I ran I couldn't breathe,' Gascoigne said afterwards. 'It's feeling a little better now. We will have to wait and see.'

Gascoigne, an automatic selection for Venables' side to play in the friendly against Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday night, was the key player in Lazio's early domination and contributed to Guiseppe Signori's sixth-minute goal that won the match. In the 17th minute he made a characteristic surge down the left which was ruthlessly halted by Roma's Marco Lanna. Lanna was booked but Gascoigne suffered the greater misfortune. He went off for treatment but was clearly in great pain when he returned a few minutes later with a bandaged hand, and with only 23 minutes gone left the match in tears.

Until his injury, Gascoigne had been the calmest and most skilful influence of a frenetic and frequently vicious opening. Playing the game at night, to suit the needs of television, simply enhanced a pulsating atmosphere as the two sides who shared the Stadio Olimpico received rapturous receptions from their followings. As the smoke from the numerous firecrackers cleared, it was Lazio who settled first and after six minutes they went ahead. Gascoigne's measured ball to the right found Aron Winter, who beat his man, and his cross was volleyed in by Signori.

With Gascoigne relishing the occasion and Roma's response limited to a series of vicious tackles, Lazio seemed poised for a memorable victory. Once the home side's playmaker had left the pitch, however, Roma's contribution extended from the cynical to the skilful. Abel Balbo hit the woodwork and Guiseppe Giannini missed a penalty with 20 minutes left.

Lazio (1-4-3-2): Marchegiani; Negro; Bacci, Di Matteo, Bonomi, Bergodi (Favalli, 4); Fuser, Winter, Gascoigne (Di Mauro, 23); Signori, Boksic.

Roma (1-4-3-2): Cervone; Lanna; Cappioli, Garzya, Aldair, Carboni (Totti, h/t); Bonacina (Scarchilli, 66), Piacentini, Mihajlovic; Giannini, Balbo.

Referee: L Luci (Florence).

Ince's injury doubt, page 31

More football, page 30