Football / World Cup: Gascoigne to mask his intentions

PAUL GASCOIGNE plans to wear his carbon-fibre cheekbone protector - alias the 'Gazz-mask' - in England's World Cup qualifier in Poland on Saturday. Graham Taylor has agreed to the request, although it will have to be cleared by the referee in Chorzow, writes Henry Winter.

Gascoigne, whose cheekbone was fractured by Jan Wouters's elbow at Wembley last month, has worn the face guard for Lazio's last two games. 'Lazio have said they would like him to wear the mask,' Taylor said. 'If the medical advice is for him to wear it then I have no problem with that.'

The England manager enjoyed a rare day of encouragement on the injury-bulletin front. Gascoigne, who had taken a buffeting at Brescia on Sunday, felt fit enough to train with the squad as did Carlton Palmer, still bruised from the Cup final. Les Ferdinand (back) managed some jogging while Ian Wright's troublesome ankle withstood a light workout.

Chris Armstrong, who has assumed Wright's mantle at Selhurst Park, has assured Alan Smith, Crystal Palace's acting manager, that he will not leave, despite the club's relegation to the First Division.

Jim Smith, the Portsmouth manager, has been banned from receiving FA Cup final tickets for five years after the Football Association discovered that a ticket issued to him had found its way on to the black market.

Don Hutchison, the Gateshead- born, Scotland-qualified Liverpool midfielder, said yesterday that he is undecided about committing himself to the tartan cause. 'If I do become a foreigner in the eyes of Europe, I don't want to jeopardise my chances of a first-team (Liverpool) place for future seasons,' he said.

The former Nottingham Forest chairman, Maurice Roworth, was yesterday jailed for two years for a series of frauds that brought him pounds 600,000.