Filed: Wednesday, 5th March 2003
By: Graeme Howlett
Hammers boss Glenn Roeder has hinted that club captain Paolo Di Canio may have to settle for a place on the bench when the Hammers next take to the field.
With a week's break looming - thanks to the FA Cup - that game doesn't come until the following weekend, when West Ham travel to Everton for one of their annual bogey fixtures.
But Roeder, speaking tonight gave clear indication that - for the first time in his 4 years at West Ham - Di Canio, currently in Italy for 'rehabilitation' may have to settle for a spot of bench warming upon his return to East London.
"Saturday against Spurs was a statement of our intentions - that is our benchmark now for the rest of the year," he said.
"We had good shape throughout, and a back four that performed very well and protected the goalkeeper for 90 minutes.
"The middle four put up a shield up in front of the back four and the front two played good striking roles - as a partnership.
"If there are people that are not prepared to be part of that teamwork then they won't be involved. I know I have the backing of the players."
Speculation earlier this week suggested that Di Canio may have played his final game for the club, after a much publicised outburst following his substitution (and the team's subsequent 2-1 win) at West Bromwich Albion infuriated Roeder.
Supporters - who previously backed the Italian despite several spats with his employers - also appear to be turning against Di Canio, with fans voting, in a local newspaper poll 2-1 in favour of Di Canio being replaced as club captain.
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