England players eager to help save troubled Paul Gascoigne
Captain Steven Gerrard pledges support for fallen idol after yet another relapse
The England captain Steven Gerrard said that a players' delegation from the national team has approached the Football Association and pledged to offer to help over the plight of Paul Gascoigne, whose declining mental state has been a case of concern over the past week.
The offer, which was made via the England players' committee, is understood to include financial help for the 45-year-old former England international, who has been booked into a rehabilitation centre in America but as of Tuesday was yet to have flown out there. His treatment is being paid for by a number of organisations and individuals including his former England team-mate Gary Lineker and former cricketer Ronnie Irani.
Gascoigne was drunk and incoherent at a public appearance in Northampton on Thursday, prompting fears that he was declining rapidly. For the current generation of players, including Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, Gascoigne and his performances at the 1990 World Cup finals remain their stand-out childhood memories of watching football.
Gerrard, who will captain England against Brazil at Wembley, said that the players had made an offer of help: "We have a committee in the group, in the squad, and went to see Michelle [Farrer, director of Club England team operations]. We backed that up.
"If the management team think the players can help in any way we're available and prepared to do so. I've read today he's already checked into a place in America, so action has already been taken by people who are lot closer to him than we are as players."
Roy Hodgson said that Gascoigne needed to take "drastic measures to try and get his life back into some sort of order." He added: "Sometimes being a friend might have to mean telling people things they don't want to hear and telling them not to do things they want to do. Hopefully he will come out the other side a fitter and stronger person. He has our full support and anything we can do that could help him, we'd be more than happy to do.
"It's a question of Paul now getting the treatment he needs and kind words won't be enough. It needs some quite severe action and let's hope he gets what is required to come through the situation and come out the other side as the person and player we all remember and revere as a player. I'm very happy the players have made the gesture because I'm sure to Paul having the love of the current England team could be a factor in aiding his recovery."
Hodgson will start Ashley Cole on the occasion of his 100th cap and there will be a presentation for both him and Gerrard, who won his against Sweden in November, on the pitch before the match. There are no plans to make Cole captain for the occasion, as has been the case in the past because, in Hodgson's view, he has never "pushed to be a potential captain".
Hodgson said that Cole, a divisive figure, deserved a good reception from the Wembley crowd: "I see no reason for England fans not giving him the credit and reception and the admiration he deserves playing his 100th game. If you are an England fan and don't respect or love someone for doing that, then that's your problem and not his."
Jack Wilshere will also begin the game for England alongside Gerrard in midfield, his first start for his country since June 2011. Hodgson conceded that he has many options in midfield but fewer in attack where Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe have already withdrawn because of injury.
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