Football: Di Canio leaves Wilson in dark

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The Independent Online
PAOLO DI CANIO faces an uncertain future after failing to report back to Hillsborough. Sheffield Wednesday's wayward Italian remains absent without leave and their manager, Danny Wilson, says he does not know when he is likely to return.

Di Canio was due to report back last week after a short spell in his homeland. But Wednesday received a doctor's certificate claiming he was unfit to travel, and all efforts to pinpoint his whereabouts in Italy have failed.

"We're unable to contact him personally and it's a very frustrating time for everybody concerned," Wilson said.

Di Canio, who is nearing the end of an 11-match ban, will be free to return to the Wednesday line-up in the Boxing Day game against Leicester City. But Wilson could now be forced to abandon any hopes of including the former Milan forward in his Christmas plans.

"I'm disappointed and I feel sorry for the chairman because he's bent over backwards for him." Wilson said. "We've shown tremendous loyalty and patience to Paolo over the things that have happened in the last few months. I don't think that's been reciprocated."

Di Canio pushed the referee Paul Alcock to the ground after being sent off in a game against Arsenal in September, for which he was given an eight-match suspension on top of the automatic three-match ban for the red-card offence. He was also fined pounds 10,000. He has since been fined for being absent, and with other costs, it is estimated that the escapade so far has cost nearly pounds 100,000.

Wilson believes the one person who may have benefited from Di Canio's absence is his countryman, Benito Carbone.

"Beni's really on top of his game at the moment," Wilson said. "He's doing fantastically well and maybe that's because Paolo is not here."

The Italian football federation is threatening to take action against Sampdoria if David Platt either takes a coaching session or gives instructions to his new team on the pitch.

The row has blown up after opposition to the former England captain's appointment from the Italian coaches' association, because Platt does not hold the necessary Uefa coaching qualifications to manage a team in Serie A. Sampdoria have attempted to circumvent the rules by appointing Platt as "supervisor," with 59-year-old Giorgio Veneri having the title of coach.

Southampton are having talks with the Peruvian striker Waldir Perez about a record pounds 2.5m deal. Perez, who plays for Alianza Lima, flew in to meet the Saints manager, David Jones, yesterday and will watch today's game against Wimbledon before contract talks.

Because Perez has a Spanish passport he will not need to apply for a work permit and could go straight into the Southampton side for the festive programme.

The Aston Villa manager ,John Gregory, said yesterday that he plans to buy an experienced goalkeeper as soon as possible as Mark Bosnich needs surgery which will keep him out of action for at least eight weeks.

The Australian international has missed Villa's last 12 matches, and Gregory said: "It's a major blow to us and our hopes of winning the Premier League title. Mark needs surgery to tighten up the shoulder joint. But he's been assured by the specialist that he should make a complete recovery.

"However, it means I'm going to have to try and sign another experienced goalkeeper as quickly as possible and that might mean going abroad."

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