Premier League

Di Canio hush on summer targets

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Wed, 22 May 2013 15:30:00

Borussia Dortmund have been dealt a serious blow ahead of Saturday's Champions League final with the news that Mario Gotze has been ruled out of the Wembley showpiece.

The 20-year-old midfielder has been unable to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered during the second leg of their semi-final clash against Real Madrid.

He tried to train on Tuesday but had to quit the session before the end.

Gotze said in a statement on Dortmund's official website: "The final was my big goal and in the past weeks I have battled hard for it.

"I am unbelievably sorry that I will not be able to help the team in this important match.

"I have huge belief in our team and will naturally travel with them to London to endeavour to support the lads off the pitch."

Saturday's all-German final will be against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, who Gotze will join before the start of next season.

Bayern agreed to pay ?37m for his services in April, making him the most expensive German footballer of all time.

Dortmund general manager Michael Zorc admitted following the latest training session: "Mario felt something again in his hamstring, which was why he stopped."

The Lithuanian, who won the Scottish Cup in 2006 during his spell with the club as a player, rejoined the Gorgie outfit last year and worked underneath managers Paulo Sergio, John McGlynn and current boss Gary Locke.

The 38-year-old former Porto striker stressed that the Jambos will always have a special place in his heart and praised for the club's supporters.

He told the club's official website: "It has been a great experience, an honour and privilege to have been here as assistant manager for the past year.

"Tynecastle is a special place and I will always retain fond memories of the stadium and particularly the supporters. They have been phenomenal this season and I'm only disappointed that we didn't have a better campaign for them.

"I have enjoyed my time here and I'm sure it will prove of great benefit as I look to continue my career off the park."

Hearts announced on Tuesday that the clear-out of their first-team squad had continued with the release of midfielder Mehdi Taouil.

The Moroccan follows Danny Grainger, Darren Barr, Gordon Smith, Denis Prychynenko and George Scott out the Tynecastle exit.

The Black Cats are expected to appoint Milan-based agent Roberto Di Fanti as director of football, and he will work alongside owner and chairman Ellis Short to find the players the manager needs and strike the deals to secure their services.

However, Di Canio will have the final say after sending out Di Fanti with a list of requirements, provided that Short agrees to provide finance for any deal.

The former Swindon boss told the Sunderland Echo: "I know that the club has a plan, and the picture is clear before me of how it will work.

"I am head coach, the others have to handle the financial situation.

"I have said to them, we need this type of player, this type of quality, in this position or that position, so show me the players we can go and get and I will tell them, 'Yes, this player is okay' or 'No, this player is not'."

Di Canio has already revealed he would like to bring in six or seven new faces this summer, and there are certain to be departures with Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon out of contract and Phil Bardsley having done himself few favours after being photographed lying on the floor of a casino covered in ?50 notes during a team night out.

The 44-year-old Italian was furious and both Bardsley and Kilgallon were omitted from the squad for Sunday's 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Tottenham as a result of their alleged involvement.

Di Canio has been less than impressed with the discipline at the club since his arrival at the end of March, and he revealed last week that he had handed out fines to seven players within a matter of days for breaches of the Black Cats' internal rules.

However, sources on Wearside have insisted there is no rebellion within the club amid reports the dressing room is in open revolt.

It has emerged in recent days that two of those fined have since turned to the Professional Footballers' Association for advice, sparking suggestions of a rift between the manager and some members of the squad.

However, insiders today played down the rumours with club officials privately baffled at the reaction to a club punishing its employees for breaches of discipline in an era when footballers are often pilloried for their conduct.

They insist all the penalties are in line with the rules, which dictate that no player can be fined more than two weeks' wages.

Every offender has the right to seek independent counsel and sources insist it is not unusual for people hit with fines to seek advice from the PFA, which two have done on this occasion.

Di Canio's players, who were made to travel back to the north-east as a squad after Sunday's final-day fixture at White Hart Lane, were sent off on their summer holidays yesterday after a whirlwind few weeks since the manager's arrival at the end of March.

Martin O'Neill's successor has left the men he inherited from the Ulsterman in little doubt as to what he expects of them, and has already demonstrated that he is not prepared to tolerate anything less than the standards of behaviour outlined in the club's code of conduct.

The fines issued to date have been imposed for offences such as lateness, failure to report for treatment and missing signing sessions with the manager determined to instil a new mentality on and off the pitch.

Days off were rare during Di Canio's first few weeks in the job, and while he may have brought greater structure to the training schedule since, insiders are adamant that the players are spending no longer at the Academy of Light than they were before his arrival, and that there has been little or no dissension over his methods.

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