Paolo's Progress

Paolo Di Canio will return to training this weekend - and, hopefully, to match action against West Bromwich Albion at Upton Park next Wednesday.

Contrary to reports that he is coming back this week, when in fact he is continuing intense rehabilitation in Bologna, Glenn Roeder reveals: "I have spoken to Paolo and he is flying back to England on Saturday, looking forward to training at Chadwell Heath on Sunday, and he will be fine.

"He will then train with everyone on Monday and Tuesday in the build up to the West Brom game.

"He has told Ges Steinbergs that he is ready to go straight back in with the lads and we expect his physical condition to be in good order."

Paolo's return will give Glenn more options up front where he is most stretched. At Newcastle, in the absence of the Italian and Fredi Kanoute, Joe Cole played up front alongside Jermain Defoe, while Titi Camara has been the striker ready to come on from the bench.

Summer signing Youssef Sofiane, who missed some of pre-season with injury, is currently away with France under-21s in Russia, while youngster Billy Mehmet played up front for the reserves on Monday against Wimbledon.

Despite Paolo's recent injury problems, first with the knee and then with the foot injury that has restricted him to just 65 minutes of pre-season action, he said here some time ago that when he does return to action he would have the fitness levels he had when he was 27.

As well as being welcomed back by management and fans alike, someone else will be delighted to see him back on these shores - club photographer Steve Bacon, who will then be able to take the official squad photo for the 2002-03 season!