Paolo Back For West Brom?

There are high hopes that Paolo Di Canio could return to first team action for the visit of West Bromwich Albion on September 11 - with club doctor Ges Steinbergs predicting that the Italian will come "flying out of the blocks."

Paolo, who spent the summer rehabilitating at a specialist fitness centre in Bologna following the knee injury that ruled him out of the end of last season, has returned there until next week, and Ges says: "He is going to have a scan and, all being well, he will return to us next week and be able to do work on grass.

"He picked up a foot injury the day before the Colchester game at the end of July and it has been slow healing.

"It is a torn muscle in the foot between the second and third toes and he developed a haematoma. We felt a change of air might do him good and it seemed the obvious thing to send him back to Bologna, where they could do a follow-up on the knee as well.

"He is still working on his match fitness and is able to use a swimming pool there and when the swelling goes down he will be able to regain his match fitness quickly because he has worked so hard during the summer.

"The knee looks really good and the only issue will be getting him match fit as he has been out a number of weeks.

"At the moment the projected time is the West Brom game - Paolo will be chomping at the bit for that one."

Although the injury appeared a relatively minor one initially, Ges says that he couldn't be rushed back or the consequences could have been dire.

"When you have a relatively small injury the temptation is often to push things to get fit quicker, so we had to slow things down to get a full resolution.

"The foot, obviously, is very important, and we have got to get things right.

"If you look at the England players Beckham, Neville, and Murphy - who all had similar problems in the summer, it took them some time to return."

Ges does believe, however, that the enforced break Paolo had at the end of last season, plus the work he has been putting in all season, will stand him in good stead upon his return.

"He had a bit of rest from actual games on account of his season being shortened, and he has been working hard through the summer with a lot of aerobic and upper body exercises.

"It has been frustrating for him, but a major part of his game is about fitness and he is a meticulous trainer - he is an example to all in that department.

"When he does return we should see him come flying out of the blocks."