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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Di Canio slams Sunderland players

Ex-Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has launched a stinging attack on a number of his former players at the Stadium of Light.

Paolo Di Canio gestures to the Sunderland fans after their loss at West Brom -- 24 hours later the club
Paolo Di Canio was sacked by Sunderland in September.

Randall: Wembley history

Di Canio was sacked by the Black Cats in September after a troubled start to the season that left the club bottom of the Premier League table.

Sunderland, though, are now in a healthier position since the arrival of Gus Poyet, sitting just one point adrift of safety.

But despite Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley having become key players under the Uruguayan, Di Canio has lashed out at the pair.

"These two players were rotten -- the most unprofessional players I've ever worked with,” he told Sky Sports.

"What Bardsley has done in the last year speaks volumes. Photos of him lying on the floor in a casino covered by 50 pound notes and laughing at the team losing on the opening day, that's public.

"It's no surprise these players were kicked out of my plans. The reason Sunderland stayed up at the end of last season was because Cattermole was injured and Bardsley played very little."

Di Canio also hit out at Black Cats defender John O'Shea, stating that the former Manchester United player was somebody he could not trust.

"I don't like people who, when they speak to you, don't look into your eyes," he said. "He should say sorry to some of his teammates for the many times he came into my office to say something unfavourable about them.

"This is the same person that also came to me when I first took over and said things about [former Sunderland boss Martin] O'Neill."

Di Canio was also less than impressed with striker Steven Fletcher during his time at the club, adding: "This is a man who was filmed spitting on the back of a rickshaw driver in London. What sort of role model is that, who behaves like this?

"I don't like people fooling around when we're having a serious discussion about strategy. I don't like people who laugh when they keep missing the goal in training or miss a tackle that leads to conceding a goal."

Despite making it clear that he failed to see eye to eye with a number of players during his spell at the Stadium of Light, Di Canio claimed he had the support of the majority of his squad.

"On my phone, I have 14 text messages from players at the club supporting me," he said. "Speak to the majority of players who have worked with me and they'll say 'it was tough working for Paolo, but he was professional'."

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