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Wednesday, May 27, 1998 Published at 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK

Sport: Football

Gazza's birthday present
image: [ Gazza will play ... but not in goal ]
Gazza will play ... but not in goal

Paul Gascoigne will celebrate his 31st birthday with his first England start for six months when Glenn Hoddle's team take on Morocco in Casablanca on Wednesday evening.

The BBC's Mike Ingham previews the game
Gascoigne will be given the chance to prove his fitness, while Ian Wright is also poised to make his first England start since qualification for France 98 was clinched in Rome last October, while Graeme Le Saux might also figure.

[ image: Graeme Le Saux could return]
Graeme Le Saux could return
Paul Ince will not play after damaging his ankle in a training session on Monday, and though Hoddle has played down the extent of the injury, he is worried that other players anxious to make the final 22 could push themselves too hard.

"All the players will be told to be honest with us. The last thing I want to do is use these games to get an injury that could rule somebody out. But by telling them to be honest we can pre-empt them feeling they have to stay on," he said.

Striker Alan Shearer is certain to be rested for Wednesday's game with Ian Wright and Paul Scholes forming England's striking partnership.

If Le Saux's calf lasts the two hour flight from England's training camp at La Manga to Morocco he will play at wing-back on the left, with Darren Anderton filling the same position on the right.

[ image: Tony Adams will deputise as captain]
Tony Adams will deputise as captain
Tony Adams, who will deputise as captain, will form a defensive trio with his Arsenal colleague Martin Keown and Tottenham's Sol Campbell.

Nicky Butt David Batty and Rob Lee will form England's midfield, while Ian Walker is desperate for a chance in goal.

Concern over the quality of the pitch in Casablanca prompted Hoddle to admit that whilst it was "not horrendous", neither was it ideal. Nevertheless, Hoddle said the game would be valuable experience prior to England's opening match against Tunisia.

[ image: This could be Ian Wright's last chance to make the 22]
This could be Ian Wright's last chance to make the 22
"Morocco are pretty similar to Tunisia in terms of their approach to the game and their mentality," he said. "They've had a bit more experience than some teams and it's interesting to play them in these conditions, because they'll be similar to what we'll face in Marseilles."

Morocco, meanwhile, will be without striker Khalid Raghib who has withdrawn from the match against England and France with a serious groin injury. He will be replaced by Rachid Roki of Raja Casablanca, the leading scorer in this year's Moroccan league championship.

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