The striker's head is on the block after his sending-off in the third round against Watford and his poor performance in the 2-1 victory at Leeds last Saturday. Atkinson has a ready-made replacement in Di Canio's compatriot Benito Carbone, who returns after serving a two-match suspension.
"I am happy that we have the added dimension of Beni being back in the frame," Atkinson said. "Circumstances dictate who will play because after Monday night Di Canio is not available due to what I can only describe as his misdemeanour in the match against Watford."
Philippe Albert has pleaded with the Newcastle manager, Kenny Dalglish, to play him against Stevenage this afternoon. However, the Belgian centre-back accepts it will be tough to get back into the side after Newcastle's defence put in a battling display in the 1-0 defeat by Liverpool last Tuesday.
Two players sure to return against the Conference side are the England midfielder David Batty,who has completed a four-match suspension, and Alan Shearer, who will start his first match of the season.
The Manchester City striker Uwe Rosler will lead the attack against West Ham in this afternoon's FA Cup tie at Maine Road. The German is back to full fitness after months of injury problems and has hit three goals in his last six matches.
The West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, has admitted that he has had a problem this week working out how to stop City's playmaker, Georgi Kinkladze. His eventual decision was to hand the responsibility to the man who knows the little Georgian best, the Maine Road old boy Steve Lomas. He returns in place of John Moncur, who begins a two-match ban. West Ham will be without Paul Kitson and Andy Impey.Reuse content