Football: Di Canio's future cast in doubt

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PAOLO DI CANIO'S future will today come under discussion by the Sheffield Wednesday board as they ponder what direction to take over the unruly Italian. Di Canio's threat to reveal details of a letter containing his grievances against the club unless officials meet with him in Italy, has added to the resentment between the player and the club.

The 30-year-old believes he did not receive enough support from the club after his shove on the referee Paul Alcock, which led to an 11-game ban by the Football Association. His expected Boxing Day return never materialised, and Di Canio has now spent the last five weeks at home claiming he is suffering from depression and stress.

The latest sicknote from his doctor has ruled the striker out of returning to England until 31 January. His behaviour has led to him being suspended without pay for a month, a course of action by Wednesday which is certain to continue when the ban expires on Saturday.

The chairman, Dave Richards, and his directors are likely to consider transfer-listing Di Canio, although any fee offered would be at a fraction of the pounds 4.5m club-record paid to Celtic in the summer of last year. With little interest in a player becoming a pariah, it will be hard for Richards to cut his losses.

The Sheffield Wednesday secretary, Graham Mackrell, said: "There is a board meeting tomorrow. It's purely routine, although I'm sure Mr Di Canio will be discussed. I would think whether we transfer-list him is academic, however, because nobody has had a chance to speak to him."

With Wednesday holding his registration, Di Canio under contract for another two-and-a-half years to the club, could be subjected to a worldwide ban by the club.

Middlesbrough hope their former Internazionale striker Marco Branca will return to the club soon after months of speculation over a career-threatening knee injury.

The 34-year-old has played only 25 minutes' football, as a second-half substitute at Spurs this season, after a knee operation in April.

Branca has not figured in manager Bryan Robson's plans for months and the general feeling on Teesside is that Branca will not play for the Premiership club again.

But Viv Anderson, the Boro assistant manager, said: "Branca is working on his fitness in Italy. We hope he will return and start training with us in the next few weeks."

Branca scored nine goals in 11 appearances for Middlesbrough last season.

Dietmar Hamann, the Newcastle United midfielder, wants to quit the club only five months into his first season in the Premiership. The German World Cup man was signed from Bayern Munich in the summer for pounds 5.25m by then Newcastle boss Kenny Dalglish.

Hamann signed a five-year contract on his arrival on Tyneside but is unhappy at the way he has been used by Dalglish's successor as manager, Ruud Gullit.

Under the Dutchman, Hamann has struggled to hold down a regular place in the first team although he has played in the Magpies' last two games.

However, he was sent off in his last Premiership game at Liverpool on 28 December . "I came here to achieve something," said the 25-year-old yesterday. "But when I am not allowed to, when I play no defined role in the team, then that makes it pointless."