Paolo Out For Season

Club doctor Ges Steinbergs has revealed that Paolo Di Canio will not play again this season - but he will be fit to return with the other players for pre-season training on July 4th.

Paolo, who sustained a medial collateral ligament tear against Charlton recently, had originally hoped to return for the last game of the season against Bolton on May 11.

One report had even suggested he could be back for the Newcastle game a week earlier but that has proven to be misguided. Paolo is at a fitness centre in Bologna, and Ges says: "Unfortunately the news coming through about his ligament was a little worse than we had first anticipated, and it can take anything from three to 12 weeks to heal.

"Paolo is really disappointed that he is not there battling it out with the boys because he desperately wants us to finish in the best possible position.

"We were hoping for the fastest resolution and we felt that with the FA Cup Final coming we might have an extra week or so to get Paolo right, but I'm afraid it doesn't look like that - despite the efforts of all and sundry.

"But the good news is that he won't need an operation, he will be raring to go next season, and he will be able to put this disruption behind him.

"Normally these injuries are braced for three weeks and then they rehab gently through, with swimming and fitness work.

"That will just take him nicely into pre-season providing there are no setbacks - which we are not expecting.

"Paolo is a professional and he will do his rehabilitation to the letter."

Ges and John Green saw him in Italy this week, and Ges adds: "John and I have been to visit the centre where he is doing his rehab, to talk to the doctors and physiotherapists involved.

"It must be remembered that Paolo's family are still here, and that he is a few hours away from his home town.

"He is doing three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening which is quite intensive, but there are a few other players like Baggio around, which will give him the focus and energy to get on and progress. They both know each other well, and that will help his rehab."

Even the possibility of him returning to salute the fans after the Bolton game seems remote, and Ges explains: "I think that will be governed by the medics in Italy at present, because there are concerns about deep vein thrombosis when flying with a brace on. We wouldn't want Paolo taking any unnecessary risks, being immobilised in a flight and causing problems.

"I'm sure Paolo in himself would be keen to come back for the last game but we have to be sensible."

Ges says the main problem could be Paolo's over-enthusiasm to get back to fitness, as he does tend to do light training during the summer anyway.

"He keeps himself fit, though at the moment he is obviously limited to what he can do," he says.

"I think we will need to put the reins on him a little bit because he is keen to run before he walks, but he understands the nature of what has to be done, and being in Italy gives him an advantage from a language point of view.

"All in all it should be straightforward, and we will see a stronger Paolo next season. He is used to putting in the hours and the slog.

"He has always looked after himself and if there is anyone that can self motivate it is him; he often shows his frustrations on the pitch but that is because he wants to do well and can't understand why things don't always go his way.

"He is passionate about the club."