ENGLAND’s performance against Switzerland, and the presence of Paul Gascoigne in the Wembley stands, was a reminder of how much our midfield misses a creative spark.

Gazza and I were both born in the north-east town of Gateshead.

I often say the reason I was with the England team under Graham Taylor was as his interpreter!

He was an unbelievable character who lived for football and loved every minute when the team was together.

Gazza lifted spirits sky high and was such a natural, gifted player.

Everyone’s concern of course was how he would cope when he finished playing, as football was his life.

He’s undoubtedly had some low times so I was delighted to see pictures of him looking so well the other night.

Gareth Southgate would love to have had a Gascoigne in midfield, as would every England manager over the last 20 years.

Forwards like Harry Kane will finish better than most but have to have the ball delivered

Unfortunately players like Gazza don’t come along too often.

He’s the sort of youngster who was probably kicking a ball before he could walk properly. He grew up in a rough area where the youngsters had games in the street. He achieved the ambition they all had - to play for Newcastle.

He would have played without a salary just to wear the shirt. His natural ability of course took him to lofty heights and he just loved being involved.

Training sessions, bearing in mind we had the best English players in the country, were full of laughs when he was around.

He would be the last one to come off the training field. He stayed on when the goalkeepers were training and would volunteer to take penalties, corners and free kicks.

I just wonder if the massive salaries that players receive these days has taken away that passion for the game. It doesn’t look as if the set-up is right with England at the moment and we are not helped by most fans being more concerned with their clubs than their country.

I’m sure the Chelsea supporters, for instance, are not too bothered that they are turning out 11 foreigners each week as long as they keep them in the top two or three.

When I was with England as Graham Taylor’s assistant, we had loads of players to choose from who were playing regularly in the top flight.

When I managed Northern Ireland the main difference was the lack of players to select from.

It is a similar situation for Gareth Southgate now.

I’ve mentioned this many times before but the games in the last week show it is now affecting the England team more than ever.

Presumably, Southgate put his full-strength team out in the first game against Spain, which we lost 2-1.

In the friendly against Switzerland at Leicester, which was basically an opportunity for the reserves to show what they’re made of, we were fortunate to scrape through 1-0.

So to me it doesn’t seem too strange that Gareth does not want to discuss a renewal of his contract at this stage.

No doubt he is frustrated by the fact that the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who played the full 90 minutes against Switzerland but has so far made only two sub appearances for Chelsea this season, are not getting the game time they need.

I can see Gareth wanting to get back into club management soon.

IT was shocking to see the state of Southampton Old Cemetery when I was visiting the Common to start an Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk last weekend.

I think my car remembered the old days as I drove by the old Dell and found a place in Hill Lane.

I then took the route walking through the cemetery and could not believe the state it is in.

It is an awful sight, with every tombstone basically covered over by grass, weeds and trees etc.

Walking back two hours later, a lady walking her dog agreed with me describing it as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shocking’ etc.

I don’t know who is responsible for its upkeep, but the only time she has seen any work done there was by a few volunteers.

She also pointed out that many headstones there have a small blue sign in the ground by them, marking them out as representing a Titanic passenger.

But the image visitors will take away with them is not good.

Please, whoever is responsible, do something about it.

It’s the worst advert for Southampton you will ever see, a Dickensian scene in every shape and form.

Some of the graves are hundreds of years old and there must still be relatives in the area. I wonder what they think.