TROUBLE MACCA; Zola: We fear him.
Glenn Hoddle picks his squad today with McManaman not even sure he'll get a place.
The Liverpool star is turning into just as big an enigma as Mat Le Tissier.
Brilliant on the ball, a wonderful dribbler, virtually unstoppable - but what a woeful finisher as he demonstrated in Sunday's FA Cup epic at Chelsea - watched by Hoddle.
The England boss has to sharpen up Mac the knife in front of goal if he is to have a role against Italy.
Yet Zola says: "England have a lot of talented players, Shearer, Ferdinand, McManaman, Ince, that's why it will be a difficult match.
"England are full of international class players."
And, Zola, the biggest threat to England, picked out the Liverpool star. "McManaman is excellent, he can turn a game round when its stalled." Zola's English is rapidly improving, but he meant 'deadlocked'.
Even Macca's miss at the Bridge that would have wrapped up the tie for Liverpool did not dampen Zola's admiration for the Scouser.
Pele told me after Euro 96 that he felt McManaman would be England's future world-class performer.
Many subscribe to the theory that the Italians fear him far more than Paul Gascoigne in England's midfield.
Zola says: "We shall have to watch McManaman at Wembley." Then, with his newly acquired English sense of humour added: "From what I read in the press I think they will have to watch me!"
Gazza will be included in Hoddle's England squad to defend their 100per cent World Cup record against Italy despite having his left ankle in plaster. He has a fighting chance of making the showdown on February 12.
He said last night: "I've spoken to Glenn and told him I will be ready for the England match - there's no doubt about it."
It is a huge boost for Hoddle, who has already seen his plans disrupted by injuries to Teddy Sheringham and Andy Hinchcliffe. On the plus side, Alan Shearer and Graeme Le Saux will be back.