Sunderland's Di Canio forced to bite bullet over weighty issue

Paolo di Canio, the Sunderland coach, speaks to the media in Hong Kong on Sunday. Jessica Hromas / Getty Images
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Paolo di Canio, the Sunderland coach, has joked that he will have to cough up the cash to his players after threatening to fine them if they returned for pre-season overweight.

The Italian said he was “very happy” with the fitness of his new-look squad and laughed that he should be sending money the players’ way.

“They are lucky. Now I have to pay them because some of them were underweight,” Di Canio said in Hong Kong, where his side will play Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Asia Trophy on Wednesday.

At the end of last season, Di Canio made headlines when he warned his squad that he would slap a fine on any player who came back from summer two kilos overweight.

“No fines. Beautiful,” the manager said.

“I was very happy. Some of them came two kilos underweight. I said if they were two kilos over I would fine them, so now I have to give them £1,000 pounds (Dh5,600) maybe.”

Di Canio, who took over Sunderland near the end of last season and kept them in the Premier League, has courted controversy with his hard-line approach.

The former Lazio and West Ham striker has revamped his squad over the summer in a bid to avoid the struggles of last season, bringing in a number of new faces including the Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini and striker Jozy Altidore.

Di Canio said he was not done splashing the cash just yet.

Asked if he was planning on bringing in more fresh faces, he said: “Of course. Obviously we know — the board knows — that we need something more. But I don’t know if it’s possible at the moment.”

– Agence France-Presse